MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The seventies were stinky.
Disco, polyester, the Ford Pinto - on and on you could hear the clang, clang, clang of the clinkers.
Add to that list the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.
Don’t get the wrong idea. It was perfect for its time. It’s just that its time should have ended years ago. A few years ago, officials decided to renovate the old center. They decided not to have taxpayers pay for it - just get the money from hotel and motel taxes and sales tax on items downtown.
Now it’s almost done. The streets surrounding what will be called the Renasant Convention Center are now open.
You can’t go in - not yet. But you can at least drive by and look into the windows to see what $200-million dollars will get you these days.
Kevin Kane of Memphis Tourism said it’s a game changer. Unfortunately, he said, conventions have taken a pandemic pounding this year.
“We thought we’d be back in the convention business a few months ago, but unfortunately we started seeing cancellation after cancellation. Now our cancellations have been pushed into the first quarter of 2021. And those are questionable. We are hoping they happen. We’re not sure they will.”
General Manager Dean Dennis said they are expected to get back into business in mid-December.
“We have some very positive signs,” he said “... for our January events. We have a couple of events we are talking about for November/December this year.”