Grizzlies fans, business owners excited about possible return of NBA

(WMC-TV) - Memphis Grizzlies fans and business owners in Downtown Memphis got the news they had been waiting for Saturday when a tentative deal was reached between NBA owners and players.

Early Saturday morning, league owners and players reached a provisional agreement to end the NBA lockout after 149 days.

"There's some things that still have to be done before we'll have a definite agreement, but I think it's great news for the league and for the players and for the fans, especially," said Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley.

The Memphis City Council is one of the cities exploring a lawsuit against the NBA over loss of revenues.

Beale Street business owners said the news of a tentative agreement comes just in time for the cold season.

"We've seen a significant loss in revenue of customers on the street and patrons on the street, so hopefully this helps us out," said Performa Entertainment Director of Marketing John Shivers.  "They can all start coming back down on Beale Street, enjoying our food before they go in the games."

The city gets a per-seat fee from each NBA event at the FedEx Forum, and businesses said without the game crowds, they were looking at a major loss for the season.

"On any given game, there are 17 to 20 thousand people that come down here to Beale Street to come to the games, so it's going to be huge for us," said Shivers.  "We really depend on, during the winter time, our slow season, the Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers, and we're really happy."

Fans said they are ready to see the Grizzlies back on the court for another playoff run.

"Here's hoping that the Grizzlies start and they play on Christmas day," said Grizzlies fan Michael Ferguson.  "I can't wait.  If they play, I'm going to be so jazzed."

Details of the agreement have not yet been released.  The league said the teams will likely play 66 games instead of the usual 82.

The tentative start date for the season is Christmas Day.

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton issued the following statement about the potential end of the lockout:

"I am absolutely thrilled by the news of the NBA lockout coming to an end. This is a great Christmas gift for Memphis and for every other NBA city and their fan base.

In fact, I want to encourage every Memphian and every Grizzlies fan to get behind our team and support them during this abbreviated season.  Last year was magical; this year can be as well.

Congratulations are extended to Michael Heisley, all of our great players, Coach Hollins, and the entire organization.  As fans and as a community, we are here for you."

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