Teams scramble for Memphis stadia fund pie


Memphis struggling to allocate stadium funds Image: University of Memphis

The City of Memphis in Tennessee (US) envisioned a historic distribution of stadium renovation money – but that lofty plan has devolved into a growing scramble for cash involving the Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and every major pro and college team in town.

‘YARDBARKER’ stated that the Tennessee General Assembly gave $350 million to Memphis in April to help renovate the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee (US), the home of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) Memphis Grizzlies, the AutoZone Park, where the Triple-A RedBirds play and the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, home of the University of Memphis football team. The money also is intended to help build a proposed soccer stadium that would be the permanent home of the USL Championship’s Memphis 901 FC.

The 19,000-capacity FedExForum is a multipurpose arena located in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee (US). It is the home of the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I men’s basketball program of the University of Memphis, both of whom previously played home games at the now closed 20,000-capacity Memphis Pyramid in Memphis.

The Memphis Grizzlies are an American professional basketball team based in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Southwest Division. The Grizzlies play their home games at the FedExForum.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. It also organizes the athletic programs of colleges and helps over 500,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.

The NCAA Division I is the highest level of intercollegiate athletics sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, which accepts players globally.

The University of Memphis (Memphis) is a public research university in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 1912, the university has an enrollment of more than 22,000 students.

The 10,000-capacity AutoZone Park is a Minor League Baseball (MiLB) stadium located in downtown Memphis, Tennessee, and is home to the Memphis Redbirds of the International League, the Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s (MLB’s) St. Louis Cardinals. It also hosts Memphis 901 FC of the United Soccer League (USL) Championship, the second tier of US soccer.

The 58,325-capacity Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, originally named the Memphis Memorial Stadium, and later Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, is a football stadium located at the former Mid-South Fairgrounds in the Midtown area of Memphis, Tennessee, United States.

Cutting up the Pie

‘YARDBARKER’ further stated that but specific allocations of the money, which are the responsibility of the City, have not yet been made. Now, many of the individual teams involved are publicly lining up to get their share, and maybe more – and it’s uncertain if there will be enough funds to satisfy everyone.

The University of Memphis is strongly arguing that the stadium upgrades are critical to ensure the school isn’t left out of further college Conference realignment. The school is looking to start stadium renovation work in January and pushing to get some of the State money now.

Maintained Laird Veatch, Memphis’ Athletics Director, “We want to not lose out on the opportunity to maximize those State allocations to really help us in the most optimal way.”

The needs of each venue are critical due to their ages: All facilities are at least 19 years old, and the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium dates to 1965.

Observed Jim Strickland Memphis Mayor, “These stadium renovation projects and their respective funding streams are complex, and we hope to have a resolution that everyone can be proud of in the near future.”

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