MEMPHIS, Tenn — Mayor Jim Strickland presented a plan to the Memphis City Council Tuesday to build up the sports scene in the city, to the tune of $684 million.
During his presentation to council members, the mayor said the capital investment would go to four areas:
- Renovating FedExForum
- Renovating Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium
- Renovating AutoZone Park
- Building a new soccer stadium for Memphis 901 FC
FedExForum, Liberty Stadium, & AutoZone Park
Strickland said the changes would allow for Memphis to become a “world-class sports tourism destination.” The Memphis Grizzlies contract expires in 2029, and Strickland believes renovations could help ensure the team stays in Memphis. He said the Liberty Stadium renovations would better position University of Memphis for conference realignment and that the proposal would increase jobs, sales tax revenue, and economic impact.
New Memphis 901 FC stadium
The proposed new 10,000-person soccer stadium for Memphis 901 FC would go at the site of the former Mid-South Coliseum. The design would incorporate portions of the old Coliseum, though “most of it would come down.”
901 FC said the stadium is being designed by Odell Sports & Entertainment Studio and LRK, and would pay homage to the rich music history in Memphis. The stadium would also be able to host concerts, large-scale events, and long-field sporting events. 901FC hopes it could happen in time for the 2025 USL Championship season, a year before the World Cup is slated for North America in 2026.
“When we launched our football club in 2019, we had two dreams. The first was to compete at the highest level and win a USL Championship. Today, we are proud to be in the playoffs for our second consecutive season, this time as the second seed,” said Tim Howard, Sporting Director of 901 FC, in a news release. “The second goal was to build a proper soccer stadium with a world class pitch for our club that rivals that of Louisville or any of the great new venues being built in the United States and Europe for soccer. Today we move closer to that dream.”
901 FC also said it would invest in two state-of-the-art fields adjacent to the site for training and a potential academy and professional women’s team.
Funding & economic impact of proposal
Mayor Strickland said they are asking the state of Tennessee for a one-time state investment of $350 million, which he said would in turn lead to an estimated sales tax collection for the state of $539 million.
Strickland said they would ask the state legislature to:
- Authorize option for City of Memphis Hotel/Motel tax at 5% (The mayor said the hotel tax is currently 3.5% and can be raised locally to 4% without state approval.) The mayor said asking for more is consistent with legislation for Nashville for their Titans’ deal.
- Extend FedExForum sales tax rebate through 2053
- Authorize Shelby County to extend County car rental tax through 2053
Mayor Strickland told the council the proposal would bring in a $1.3 billion one-time impact from capital investments, and a $21.1 billion impact over 15 years from operations and construction.