Deal to bring Bass Pro Shops to the Pyramid closer to becoming a reality

At a City Council committee meeting Tuesday, Pyramid planners said a deal to bring Bass Pro Shops to the Pyramid would require no local incentives and no local dollars, and BassPro would assume all responsibility for bringing the building up to code and maintaining it.

Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton was the first to praise the deal.

"I think it will be a win-win for Memphis and for that facility," he said.

What followed was a short run-through about a deal between Memphis, Shelby County and Bass Pro Shops that would bring the retail megastore to the Pyramid with zero local tax incentives and a guaranteed minimum million dollar lease payment that would help local government pay down it's eight to nine million dollar debt on the building.

"They've done a certain amount of due diligence on the facility, on the city, on the market," said Scott Ledbetter of the Pyramid Re-Use Committee. "The economics certainly support their giving the time that they've given so far."

The plan as it stands now is a non-binding agreement. It has Bass Pro Shops getting federal dollars through tax credits and leasing the Pyramid. Bass Pro Shops is making no promises yet about how exactly it would use the facility, but it is assuming all responsibility to bring the building up to standards and for maintaining it.

"If you look at any other deals like this, they cost local communities anywhere from $100 million to $200 million dollars," said Pyramid Re-Use Committee member Robert Lipscomb, "so the fact that we've been able to negotiate a deal that doesn't cost the local taxpayers any money is something that's tremendous."

The Pyramid Re-Use team will make their pitch to County Commissioners next. The deal will require approval of both governments.

Bass Pro Shops is planning a big press event on February 24th, when more information on the deal is expected.

The committee also raised questions about the Grizzlies, who have right to the Pyramid as a backup facility. City lawyers said it's still gray area, and it could one day end up in court.