Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton announced Monday he and his financial team will request City Council support for the construction of a new 50,000 seat football stadium at the Mid-South Fairgrounds.
Herenton said he hopes the stadium will accommodate the University of Memphis, the Southern Heritage Classic, Liberty Bowl and the public school system. His team will meet with the Council within 45 days.
Liberty Bowl Stadium, the existing stadium at the fairgrounds, opened in 1965, and has played host to numerous attempts at professional football in Memphis.
In 1984, the United States Football League added the Memphis Showboats as an expansion team. The team advanced to the Western Conference semifinals in 1985, but the league folded later that year.
The Canadian Football League fielded a team in Memphis, the Mad Dogs, for one year in 1995. The team finished one game out of the playoffs and folded after one season.
In 1997, the Tennessee Oilers (later the Titans) announced they would play their home games at Liberty Bowl Stadium for two seasons while a permanent stadium was constructed for the team in Nashville. The Oilers ended up playing to small crowds for NFL standards, and the final game of the 1997 season versus the Pittsburgh Steelers was controversial after the majority of fans in attendance cheered for the visiting team. The Oilers left Memphis the following season and played at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville. (Click the video link on this page to watch a 1997 Action News 5 report on the controversial game.)
In 1999, the stadium's last major professional football team, the XFL's Memphis Maniax, played for one season. Though attendance for the team was higher than the league's average, the XFL shut down after one season. (Click the video link on this page to watch a 1999 report on the Memphis Maniax and the XFL's woes.)