Shelby County Commission approves Bass Pro development agreement

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A development agreement that would turn the vacant Pyramid arena into a Bass Pro Shops retail location was approved by the Shelby County Commission early Monday afternoon.

Commissioners, citing tough economic times, called the deal the best on the table, saying Bass Pro Shops would bring millions of dollars in tourism to the county.

The deal failed when it was considered by a County Commission committee last week.

Monday, the full Commission approved it by a 9-3 vote, with Commissioners Mike Ritz, Wyatt Bunker and Steve Mulroy against it.

Critics of the plan said the deal was not binding, and that the city and county will miss out on $4.7 million in property taxes by leasing the empty arena to Bass Pro instead of selling it.

Memphis Economic Development Director Robert Lipscomb said Bass Pro Shops had expressed concern about local delays in signing the agreement.

"They were concerned, given the capital markets, given how long this has taken," he said. "They would naturally be concerned, so we're going to see where we go from here."

Under the agreement, Bass Pro Shops has 12 months to sign a long term lease on the arena. The company will pay 35,000 a month for 12 months, and if it chooses to back out of the deal, there would be a $500,000 financial penalty.

The development agreement has already been approved by the Memphis City Council.

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