The city wants to renovate the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies’ home arena,
Memphis, Tennessee Mayor Jim Strickland is asking state officials what about me? Why are Nashville and Knoxville getting money from the state for an NFL facility in Nashville and a minor league baseball stadium in Knoxville and why is Memphis not getting sports venue money? At least at the moment. Strickland and Memphis elected officials want about $350 million from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee to do extensive renovations at the city’s arena that houses the National Basketball Association’s Grizzlies along with upgrades at the city’s football stadium which once housed a World Football League team in the mid-1970s and a United States Football League franchise in the early 1980s. Strickland wants money to renovate the local minor league baseball park and knock down the Mid-South Coliseum, which has been closed since 2006. Strickland wants to build a soccer stadium to house the United Soccer League’s 901 FC on the property. The sports projects are expected to cost $684 million.
Strickland seemingly, though, couldn’t justify the sports spending except to say that it was important for Memphis. “It is truly not just about business or entertaining or the culture of the city. It’s not just about tax generation or economic impact. It’s all that and more. Your city identity is tied to sports teams.” Memphis is the home to Elvis Presley’s Graceland and rock and roll might have started in the city at Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio. Internationally, more people know Memphis for Elvis and Sam Phillips than Memphis Grizzlies basketball or the Liberty Bowl. Strickland claims Memphis is a very good sports town but Strickland knows if the city wants to remain an NBA town, it better bring its arena up to an NBA state-of-the art facility by the end of the decade. In sports, public money talks.
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