Officials tour Missouri Bass Pro mega-store - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

Officials tour Missouri Bass Pro mega-store

Memphis City and Shelby County leaders were in Springfield, Missouri Wednesday to see if a Bass Pro Shops retail store would be a good fit for Memphis' empty Pyramid Arena. Memphis City and Shelby County leaders were in Springfield, Missouri Wednesday to see if a Bass Pro Shops retail store would be a good fit for Memphis' empty Pyramid Arena.
Artist's rendering of Bass Pro Shops location at the Pyramid. Artist's rendering of Bass Pro Shops location at the Pyramid.

Memphis City and Shelby County leaders were in Springfield, Missouri Wednesday to see if a Bass Pro Shops retail store would be a good fit for Memphis' empty Pyramid Arena.

The group took a grand tour of the outdoor retailer's premiere mega-store, which includes much more than the typical guns, apparel, and outdoor sporting gear.

 "We have laser arcades in here," said Bass Pro spokesperson Larry Whiteley.  'An aquarium. We have fish feeding shows. We have a golf range. We have a NASCAR simulator."

Center City Commission President Jeff Sanford and Riverfront Development Corporation President Benny Lenderman joined officials on the tour, saying the store left a big impression.

"You can't help but be impressed with this place," Memphis Center City Commission President Jeff Sanford said. "Over 300,000 square feet of retail, and waterfalls, and ducks, and turtles."
 
Lenderman added that such a location, Missouri's number one tourist attraction, belonged in Memphis.  "It'll attract a lot of people driving off the bridges that'll stop in Memphis that wouldn't stop otherwise," he said. "They'll spend dollars or they'll come here from Arkansas or Mississippi."

Though many officials said Bass Pro was easy on the eyes, they wanted to know what it would look like on paper.
 
 "We've got to make sure that whatever Bass Pro offers for the Pyramid will be a great financial package and beneficial for the citizens of Memphis and Shelby County," said City Council member Myron Lowery.
 
"It looks absolutely fantastic, but I want to take a look at the financials," County Commissioner Joyce Avery added.

Sanford agreed money was the bottom line.

"In the end, I think it'll become a case of our city and county officials judging what is feasible and what is sustainable," he said.
 
Memphis Economic Development Director Robert Lipscomb said the city was looking for the ink.

"I don't think it's a question of an extension," Lipscomb said. "It's a question of a development agreement.  That's where we are."

Bass Pro's deadline to make a firm offer expires Thursday.

"That's the time the city gave us to determine whether we're going to do it or not," Whiteley said. "So, what time of day that'll happen, I don't know."
 
But even if Memphis lands the big fish, the Ericson Group's proposal to turn the Pyramid and Mud Island into a resort and theme park is still on the table.  However, some city and county leaders on the trip said they were hesitant to give up so much land when Bass Pro is only looking at the 30-acre Pyramid site.


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