Beale Street Bucks returns to downtown

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Beale Street Bucks did not come without controversy, and now it's back with a few tweaks.

One of those tweaks is the number of bucks you'll get to spend on Beale.

The BBQ, the blues, and of course the booze is what attracts the nearly 5 million visitors to Beale Street a year.

However, large crowds mixed with alcohol brings in enhanced risk of crime and violence.

Beale Street Bucks are back to curb the Street of Entertainment's crime stats.

"We have amazing set of things that we are implementing to make it better for the consumers," said Ken Taylor, Executive Director of the Beale St. Merchants Association.

Beale Street Bucks returns Saturday night with a soft roll out. Starting at 10 p.m., visitors must again pay $10 to get on Beale Street.

However, this year visitors will get $8 back to spend at bars, restaurants, and gift shops on Beale.

The idea started last year as an effort to reduce crime downtown.

Tourists who enjoyed Beale for free Friday night said the $2 fee was worth their safety.

"I would do it in heartbeat, happily," said Kirk Heineman, who was visiting from Houston.

"You are bound to buy something as you walk along on Beale Street anyway so I think it's a good safety precaution. As a visitor that's important," said Angela Quigless, was who visiting from St. Louis.

The Beale Street Development Cooperation filed a lawsuit this year to stop the Beale Street Bucks program, which recently failed.

It claimed the Beale Street Bucks program unfairly charged people to access a public street and said the program targeted the poor and African Americans.

During its first few months in operations, it was reported The Beale Street Bucks Program lead to a 30 percent drop in incidents in the surrounding area.

"Number one purpose on Beale Street is to make sure everyone who experiences world famous Beale Street has a safe experience," said Taylor.

Eventually, there will be five entrances to get on Beale on Saturdays and you'll be able to soon pay with a card.

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