Amended Bass Pro Contract Leaves City with Overage Costs, Temporarily

Amended Bass Pro Contract Leaves City with Overage Costs, Temporarily

Is there a bait and switch going on when it comes to the Bass Pro deal? Memphis is giving Bass Pro $30 million to help turn the Pyramid into a giant Bass Pro store, but now the city could be writing an even bigger check to cover additional costs.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - Is there a bait and switch going on when it comes to the Bass Pro deal? Memphis is giving Bass Pro $30 million to help turn the Pyramid into a giant Bass Pro store, but now the city could be writing an even bigger check to cover additional costs.

Plans to turn the Pyramid into a Bass Pro store have expanded since the city and the retail giant first inked the deal. There is talk of a 300 foot high observation deck, glass-walled restaurant, and maybe even a sky ride.

Sources say by the time it's all said and done, the renovation could go tens of millions of dollars over budget. That means you could be paying for it, at least for a little while.

At the Bass Pro Shop on Sycamore View, shoppers gladly share their thoughts about Bass Pro moving into the Pyramid.

While the transformation is underway at the Pyramid, what most don't know is at city hall, contracts originally signed between Memphis and Bass Pro have changed time and time again. There has been one amendment after another, and that concerns government watchdog Joe Saino.

He says the contract is being changed without the public's knowledge.

According to the most recent change, if the costs go over the city's $30 million contribution, the city will cover the excess costs and pay vendors directly; Bass Pro will then reimburse the city by paying additional rent.

"We're being obligated under this particular change… to spend this additional money in advance and then Bass Pro will pay it back," explained Saino.

"The city will get its money back, that's the bottom line," said Memphis Councilman Myron Lowery.

He says having the city, not Bass Pro, pay the vendors directly isn't a bad thing.

"I think it's important that our vendors are paid first. I think it's important that they have the guarantee that they will receive their wages on time and then the city will be reimbursed by Bass Pro."

No one at Mayor A C Wharton's office would go on camera, but the mayor's spokesperson confirmed that Memphis will bill Bass Pro if the money set aside for remodeling the Pyramid is all spent - and until that bill is paid, you're paying for it.

Still, Saino thinks it out to be up to Bass Pro to foot the bill. He says if their credit isn't good enough, then the city shouldn't be in this deal anyway.

Bass Pro had no comment, and deferred to city hall.

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