Federal tax credit could snag Bass Pro Shops deal

Rendering of the potential Bass Pro Shops location at the Pyramid. (Courtesy Bass Pro Shops)
Rendering of the potential Bass Pro Shops location at the Pyramid. (Courtesy Bass Pro Shops)

It has been almost a year since Bass Pro Shops announced it was considering putting a mega-store in the Pyramid. Wednesday, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton said the deal could be snagged by a federal tax credit.  
"You know me, I don't like long deliberations," the mayor said. "This facility is so important. If the Bass Pro deal is not going to work, we need to pursue something else. I'm not going to drag this out."

It was the first public indication that the deal might not happen. Mayor Herenton told reporters the deal is definitely not dead, but there is a problem with the financing.  The mayor said it involves a federal tax credit that Bass Pro Shops and the city have never dealt with.

The mayor hinted public money could be an option.  "If the New Market Tax Credit does not work, for Bass Pro to become a reality, it will require some local financial participation, and we have not agreed to do that."

The mayor said he was remembering his promise to the public when the Bass Pro deal was announced.  "We promised the public that we could do that Bass Pro deal without any local financial supplement," he said.

City council member Jack Sammons said the city and county's money problems make it almost impossible to use public money.  "Before we start loaning companies money, we'll really have to look at a deal. It might be easier to build another FedExForum, but I won't say it couldn't happen."

Sammons and the mayor said if the Pyramid has to stay dark for awhile, even years, a good deal will eventually come along.