MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Bass Pro folks like to make a statement. Bring in a hot air balloon, a boat or two, and on cue, have the stock car speed in. There it was - loud, tires spinning on the old Pyramid Arena floor. No question about it. This was a big party, in a big house, about a big deal.
After close to a decade of discussion, Bass Pro Shops was beginning to build their new superstore inside the old Pyramid. The man behind getting this plan to come through, Robert Lipscomb, says it’s been tougher than anything he’s done in Memphis. “Public housing has been tough,” Lipscomb said, “but this has been much tougher."
All the big wigs got together and did a lot of praising of each other. Let them do it. There is definitely construction happening now. No more rumors, no more speculation.
Robert Lipscomb says it was normally one time each month that he thought the deal might not come through. Now it looks as though this might be his Memphis legacy. “There’s only one more big project,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about it now, but I have a timetable when I’m going to leave and it’s close.”
Remember again, it took seven years to get this deal. In that time period, the Pinch District, once one of the busiest places in downtown Memphis, has become quiet and rundown. Hopes are things will pick up.
In fact, Bass Pro’s founder, Johnny Morris, says he knows that many look at the Bass Pro Superstore as the salvation of the North End. Frankly, everybody knew that if Bass Pro didn’t come to Memphis, the Pyramid would be torn down. “How do you replicate this space,” Morris asked. “Rather than see this building torn down we’re excited it can be here for a long time and be a fun place.”
One of this country’s most famous fishermen, Bill Dance, was at the celebration. He talked about how he and Morris were on a fishing trip on the Mississippi River once, and Morris asked Dance whether Bass Pro should move to the Pyramid. Morris said if they caught a 30 pound or larger catfish, they’d renovate the Pyramid. “Well, we caught one,” Dance said. He is excited about this project. “It’s going to be a place that you will want to bring your family down and just look at.”
If all goes well, the shops should be ready by August of 2013.