Commissioners haggle over Pyramid proposals - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Commissioners haggle over Pyramid proposals

Artist's rendering of a proposed amusement park inside the Pyramid. Artist's rendering of a proposed amusement park inside the Pyramid.
Artist's rendering of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid. Artist's rendering of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.

Bass Pro or an Amusement Park?  Wednesday, Shelby County Commissioners once again took up the matter of what to do with the vacant Pyramid, attempting to send a clear message to Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton.

While the Pyramid has continued to remain in debt, and taxpayers have spent millions to keep the empty arena standing, Bass Pro Shops has not made a solid offer on the building in over two years.  Because of this, Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy pitched a resolution Wednesday demanding that Wharton turn Bass Pro Shops down if they submit another non-binding letter of intent on the building.

"This is the third one. There ought not to be a fourth one," Mulroy said. "They have until January 31st.  It's time to either put up or shut up, and if we don't have a deal by January 31st, we should move on."

Mayor Wharton's Chief Administrative and Financial Officer Jim Huntzicker told commissioners that pressuring the mayor in such a way would be inappropriate.

"We think that there's really not any reason for the commission to ask him by resolution to do one thing or another," Huntzicker said. "They could pick up the phone."

Commissioners eventually amended Mulroy's resolution to say that, even if Bass Pro makes a solid offer, they will not commit until they fully consider a proposal by the Greg Ericson Group to turn the Pyramid into a resort and theme park.

Commissioner Henri Brooks argued Ericson needs to disclose more about his finances before a deal could go forward.

Huntzicker said he had seen the proof.  Because Ericson's financial backers do not want to release private financial information without a deal, instead of taking it to public officials, they showed their proof to city and county administrators.

"Based on their past performance, based on bank documents we looked at, and some other financial issues, there was an expectation that they could come to the table with adequate financing to do their project," he said. "That's not to say that we could negotiate a deal satisfactory to the city and the county."

Committee members eventually passed Mulroy's resolution by a 4-2 vote.  It will be considered by the full commission Monday.

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