Ramesses' future in Memphis becomes cloudy

The iconic Ramesses statue at the foot of Memphis' Pyramid Arena was at the center of a tug of war Tuesday over plans to move it to the University of Memphis.
The iconic Ramesses statue at the foot of Memphis' Pyramid Arena was at the center of a tug of war Tuesday over plans to move it to the University of Memphis.

(WMC-TV) - The iconic Ramesses statue at the foot of Memphis' Pyramid Arena was at the center of a tug of war Tuesday over plans to move it to the University of Memphis.

The Memphis, Tennessee monolith is the only permitted replica of the Colossus of Ramesses statue in Memphis, Egypt.

"(It's) a centerpiece for the Pyramid at the site that it is today," former Memphis Mayor Dick Hackett said.

But Bass Pro Shops is taking over his Tennessee territory, and the Egyptian pharaoh doesn't quite fit in with the outdoor retailer's fishing and hunting theme. So, the Memphis Council's Community Development Committee met Tuesday to ponder a plan to move the 25 foot pharaoh to the University of Memphis campus.

But, Egypt - the country - has a say in Ramesses' fate.

"The president himself had to approve this in writing," Hackett said.

Committee Chairman Joe Brown asked former Memphis Mayor Dick Hackett to attend Tuesday's meeting to explain the 1991 covenant between the two Memphises when the 100,000 pound statue first stepped foot on the Mississippi Riverfront.

"The restrictions on that was it was up to the city of Memphis to use it in the city of Memphis, and for educational purposes," Hackett said.

Brown said the statue should not be sold to the school for one dollar as the resolution requests, because the 50-ton monument has no place on a state campus with limited access to the children of Memphis.

"It should be placed on city property like the zoo or the riverfront," he said.

But Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb said the city heavily advertised the plan.

"The only entity that responded was the University of Memphis," Lipscomb said. "Everyone had ample opportunity to respond."

Brown delayed the item two weeks to consult an attorney. The delay is not expected to impact the Bass Pro's arrival.

Meanwhile, for now, Ramesses throne will remain at the foot of the Pyramid.

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