Bass Pro signs lease for Memphis Pyramid

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - In a moment many thought would never happen, the president of Bass Pro Shops stood alongside the mayor of Memphis Wednesday to seal the deal that will bring the outdoor retailer to the Pyramid.

"You've heard of the big one that got away," Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said. "Folks, we got the big one that came to stay."

Wednesday's moment was more than five years in the making. Bass Pro President Jim Hagale flew to Memphis to sign the dotted line on a lease for the Pyramid Arena for the next 20 years.

"It has been a long process, but certainly I will tell you that no one on either side, the city or Bass Pro, has lost any commitment or enthusiasm to make sure that we saw it to the conclusion," Hagale said.

Hagale said seismic and flood wall issues delayed the deal.  But the lease is just part of the Memphis Gateway Redevelopment project.

"It will include a grand entrance off Interstate 40 at Riverside," Wharton said.

And the city will fix up the undeveloped areas sandwiched between the waterfront, St. Jude, Legends Park, and the Uptown and LeBonheur communities.

"No city tax money is being spent on the Pyramid," Wharton said.

The city of Memphis will contribute $30 million to the project.  In turn, Memphis will receive two percent of Bass Pro's gross sales, and one percent from the sales of boats and vehicles.

"It's going to create over $20 million in lease payments over the life of the lease, and create more than 1,000 jobs," said Memphis Community Services Director Robert Lipscomb.

Seismic issues prevent hotel rooms inside the Pyramid, but you will see a tackle shop, boats and all-terrain vehicles.  Some of the approved uses for the building include bowling alleys, special events, gun; archery and indoor golf ranges, an aquarium, museum and food court.

"We are very please and very excited," Hagale said.

Hagale joked he knew it was fate when the founder of Bass Pro went fishing on the Mississippi River one January.  Jim Morris said the deal hinged on whether or not they caught a big cat fish. And so he did.
The Memphis City Council, Shelby County Commission and the state of Tennessee must still approve the current plan.

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