County commissioner prepared to sue over Pyramid "transparency" - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Kontji Anthony

County commissioner prepared to sue over Pyramid "transparency"

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Is the future of the Pyramid arena based on a back-room deal? One Mid-South lawmaker claimed Thursday the city is planning to give the Tomb of Doom to Bass Pro Shops at the expense of taxpayers.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz said in an interview Thursday if Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb does not respond to his demands about the Pyramid "promptly," he will sue.

Ritz wants more transparency on the Bass Pro deal to lease the Pyramid Arena.

"It's all being done in secrecy," he said.
 
Ritz recently sent a letter to Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb demanding several documents.     

"I don't think I should have to do this," he said.

According to Ritz, Lipscomb has ignored repeated requests for seismic, structural, environmental and mold reports Bass Pro compiled on the Pyramid.

"They're going to probably come forward with a quick 'yes or no' to approve this Bass Pro deal.  I need to get this information before I can vote," Ritz said.

He also wants a signed copy of the development agreement, and all correspondence on the deal between Lipscomb and Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

"I don't understand why, if they said we could have it, they wouldn't give it to us unless there is something in it they don't want us to see," Ritz said.

To Ritz, too much public money is at stake.

"I understand they're not going to ask us for $30 million, but for $40 million. They're going to ask us to borrow the money and give it to them - give it to Bass Pro," Ritz said.

But that is not all.

"It's going to cost us about $68 million to borrow the $40 million because we have to pay the interest back," Ritz said, adding that it raises questions.

"Now why would we give money to anybody to take the Pyramid off our hands?"

The letter gives Lipscomb seven days to respond, or face a lawsuit.

"I think we ought to have it," Ritz said. "I think the public ought to have it."

Ritz is prepared to file a lawsuit to obtain the records if he does not get them by next Wednesday.

Thursday, Lipscomb did not return calls for this story.


Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.

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