New convention center in Memphis? Don't hold your breath - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andrew Douglas

New convention center in Memphis? Don't hold your breath

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - For months, Memphis city leaders have been studying whether or not to build a new convention center in the Bluff City. But one city leader says forget about building a new one anytime soon.

Earlier this year, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton created a committee to study building a new convention center.

Some city leaders project the costs to be around $600 million.

Conventions bring in millions of dollars each year to the Memphis economy.

But Memphis City councilman Shea Flinn says a new convention center in the next five years is not going to happen. "At some point in our future, we're going to have to remain competitive. I mean, that's just the evolution of things."

Flinn sits on the convention center committee that's studying the idea of building a new convention center to lure in more money to the local economy.

The Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau puts tourism in Memphis at a $2 billion a year industry, bringing some 9 million people to the city annually.

50,000 jobs depend on the tourism dollar.

And the convention dollar is a competitive one.

Nashville is building a new convention center and will break ground next year with a projected cost of about $600 million, hoping to lure more conventions for its local economy.

Could we see a new one here soon?

"In the next 20 years, in the next 50 years, I don't know," Flinn said. "I know it's not going to be in the next five."

Flinn says the committee should remain together, studying ways to bring more conventions here. But building a new one right now would be foolish.

"We have to work on our crime problem - that is top of the list, for me at least."


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