Herenton urges progress on Liberty Bowl - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Herenton urges progress on Liberty Bowl

By Lori Brown - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, fired up about the future of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, showed up at a Memphis City Council committee meeting Tuesday to give members an earful.

Herenton told City Council members they need to decide to either movie forward with a re-development project at the Mid-South Fairgrounds or change course.

"My request is that we move forward," he said.

Henry Turley is in charge of re-developing the fairgrounds.  Back in August, he discussed a plan that included major shopping opportunities, along with renovating the Liberty Bowl.

Tuesday, Herenton reminded City Council members those renovations are not an option.

"We're under pressures to deal with the ADA requirements," he said. "Real pressures."

The renovations are estimated to cost the city $40 million dollars.  The Department of Justice has given the city until February 24 to agree on a time frame to complete the renovations in phases by 2013 or 2014.

"I'm deeply troubled by the timeline the Justice Department has presented to us to get this complex ADA requirement met," Herenton said.

Herenton reacted when City Council members expressed different views about how they feel about the project.

"What I'm hearing today, just on the design and concept, is we are nowhere near coming together as a team on what to do with that real estate," he said.

Council Member Kemp Conrad said a lot of issues need to be worked out between the administration and the developer before the project is brought to the Council.

"There hasn't been a retail study done that would support," he said. "This whole project is predicated on $100-million of retail sells. That's a big unknown - who the anchor's going to be.  These things need to be worked out before they come to council," he said.

Herenton came to the Economic Development Committee's meeting at the request of Chair Harold Collins.

In light of the federal economic stimulus package, Collins said, the city needs to be ready with 'shovel ready' projects.

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