October 20, 2023 7:00am

Grizzlies and/or Tigers?

Officials looking for funds to renovate both the FedExForum and Liberty Stadium

Photo of David Waters
Memphis, TN Correspondent

Power Poll Memphis members are confident that local officials will find a way to finance the renovations of both of the city's major sports facilities.

Those renovations are expected to cost more than $800 million -- $550 million for FedExForum and $295 million for Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.

The state is providing $350 million for the renovations. That means city officials will have to come up with up to $500 million in additional funding for both projects to go forward.

Two-thirds of Power Poll respondents believe they will. A fifth of respondents think only FedExForum renovations will get funded. Five percent think only Liberty Stadium will benefit.

Mayor Jim Strickland and Mayor-Elect Paul Young have said they are committed to funding both renovations.

In August, The Commercial Appeal reported that Strickland had presented "the framework of a deal to University of Memphis and Memphis Grizzlies officials that would provide nearly $500 million to renovate FedExForum and $220 million for renovations on Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium."

The additional local funds would come from a combination of existing and new sales tax rebates, hotel/motel and car rental taxes, seat use fees, and development zone surcharges, according to The CA.

“We’re going to work with the Grizz, University of Memphis and the stakeholders to figure out how to get both projects executed," Mayor-Elect Young said on Grind City Media's "Gary Parrish Show" last week.

If that doesn't happen, and the city only has funds to cover one renovation, 72 percent of Power Poll respondents think FedExForum should get priority. Only 15 percent think Liberty Stadium should go first.

NBA and Grizzlies officials have said the forum needs major renovations for the team to sign a new long-term lease to stay in Memphis. The current lease ends in 2029.

UofM officials have said the stadium renovations are needed, if the Tigers are ever going to have a chance to join one of the five (soon to be four) major and more lucrative conferences in college athletics.

The Memphis funding, by the way, pales in comparison to the $1.26 billion in public funding that will be used to build a new 60,000-seat stadium for the NFL Tennessee Titans in Nashville. The state is contributing $500 million for that project.
Overall the stadium is expected to cost $2.1 billion.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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