Surplus to pad city's losses if NBA lockout continues

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority surprised Memphis City Council members Tuesday with news they have millions of dollars in a senior surplus fund.

With that, the council decided to hold off on a lawsuit to claim lockout losses from the NBA.

Council chairman Myron Lowery said he has one goal in mind, as the NBA lockout drains FedEx Forum revenues.

"Taxpayers should never have to pay for a shortfall at the Forum," Lowery said. "We made that commitment and we will keep that commitment."

Tuesday, Lowery asked the Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority to meet with the council's Economic Development and Tourism Committee to give council members a handle on the impact of the lockout damages, so they could determine whether or not to sue the NBA for losses.

"We did not know anything about the $13 million senior surplus fund, in addition to the $23 million surplus fund," he said.

Council members were surprised to learn the Sports Authority has saved millions of dollars in surplus dollars over the years.

Action News 5 asked Lowery if he still anticipates a lawsuit.

"There's no reason to rush to judgment in a lawsuit right now," he replied.

According to Lowery, the unexpected financial cushion will allow the city breathing room for the next five years, but that doesn't mean the council is content with no Grizzlies fans filling FedExForum seats.

"I want this conflict solved as soon as possible because there's no telling - the entire season could be lost and it could go into next season," he said.

In a worst case scenario, the city of Memphis would lost approximately $4.5 million if the NBA season is canceled.

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