Bass Pro deal to face final hurdle in Monday vote

The Bass Pro deal to take over the empty Pyramid arena faces its final hurdle Monday when Shelby County commissioners vote on it, but the development agreement is expected to pass.

The city signed a non-compete agreement with FedEx Forum four years ago, and the 32-story former home of the Memphis Grizzlies has been collecting cobwebs since.

City and county taxpayers spend more than $1 million a year to maintain the vacant money pit.

After years of political wrangling, Bass Pro Shops is the sole company under consideration to lease The Pyramid.
The Memphis City Council has already approved the development agreement, but the Shelby County Commission will now have the final say.

Commissioner George Flinn says he's ultimately against the deal, but that could change.

"If I see a majority of people going for it, I'll go with the will of the body," he said. "But I just don't want to rubber stamp something here because I don't want to give away the farm."

Some say the Bass Pro deal is a bad one because the city and county would have to put up $30 million, and a lease would mean no annual property taxes for the county.

But others say the outdoor retail giant could generate millions of dollars in tourism revenue for Memphis.

Commissioner James Harvey says he's hesitant because Bass Pro has not signed a binding agreement. But he worries the bad economy could be a deal breaker.

"I'm hoping that there's still a deal on the table that can be completed at some point."

The Bass Pro deal failed in a county commission committee last week because it didn't receive a majority vote.
Commissioners Bunker, Flinn, Mulroy and Ritz voted "no", while Commissioners Chism, Gibson, Harvey and Malone cast "yes" votes. David Lillard recused himself.

Four commissioners, Avery, Brooks, Carpenter and Ford, will vote in the full commission meeting Monday. Three of those four are expected to vote "yes".

Stay tuned to Action News 5 and on Monday for updates on this story.

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