Cover charge could return to Beale Street - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

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Cover charge could return to Beale Street

(SOURCE: WMC Action News 5) (SOURCE: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) -

Changes could soon be coming to Memphis' signature Entertainment District that could help improve safety following two straight weeks of events that have placed safety of those in the area at jeopardy. But, the proposal is already becoming a topic of controversy.

Beale Street Merchants Association is considering a proposal to implement a $10 cover charge for Beale Street due to overcrowding.

Ten dollars, just to be able to walk down Beale Street. 

"It was packed," John Emory said. "It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before."

Emory was visiting Memphis from Delaware and Sunday night was his first time on Beale Street. He said he felt safe, but he understands how others might not feel so safe following a stampede early Sunday morning. The stampede, following a deadly shooting that happened close to the same location just seven days prior.

"It was a result of the over-crowding on the street," Pat Mitchell-Worley said.

Worley is the spokesperson for the Beale Street Merchants Association and said the organization has been in talks with the City of Memphis and the Downtown Memphis Commission regarding a $10 cover charge for Beale Street.

"Public safety is a priority for the merchants, not just for the patrons that come down here, but for over 700 employees that are on the street every day," Worley said. "Everything is on the table."

Many people said they would be in favor of the cover charge.

"I would pay it," Emory said. "If $10 is going to keep the riff-raff away so that everybody else can enjoy themselves, then it's wonderful."

After all, he said most people come to Beale expecting to spend money. But, that's exactly why people like John Martin, who work on Beale Street, said there should not be a fee.

"Why pay money when you come on Beale Street to pay money to eat and drink," Martin said.

He understands the intention of the fee, but said it would also exclude a lot of good people looking to blow off some steam from being able to come.

"You have to understand, you're going to have riff-raff until the day you die," Martin said. "It's all about security."

Worley said security does a great job when Beale Street isn't over-crowded. However, it is the over-crowding that the Merchants Association is focusing on and trying to address.

She said the $10 fee is one of several ideas that have been talked about that the association is considering.

As for when a decision might be made, she said they are expecting it to happen soon.

"We expect to have an answer, we expect to have some idea about what we'll do by the end of the week," Worley said.

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