The city of Memphis is one step closer to turning the old Mid-South Fairgrounds into a major youth sports mecca. Tennessee state leaders in Nashville gave the green light to turn the area into a tourism development zone Monday. The proposed project comes with a $100 million price tag.
The former home of Libertyland looked a little dull Monday night. In a few years, city leaders hope to transform the area into an economic success.
“This is the location where the youth sports complex will be sited,” said Paul Young, City of Memphis Director of Housing and Community Development. “we obviously we have a lot of work to get to that point but today was a significant hurdle for us.”
Monday the State Building Committee approved plans to turn the area of the Mid-South Fairgrounds into a tourism zone where sales tax revenues can be used to pay for construction and improvements.
“This is great for the city,” said Young. “You’re creating jobs. You’re creating opportunities, and in addition to bringing in tourists for different tournaments and events, we also want a place where Memphians can enjoy themselves.”
The plan includes a 190,000 square foot indoor sports complex where the city can host youth volleyball, track and basketball tournaments. There’s also the possibility for retail space and a hotel.
“Youth sports is big business,” said Young. “It’s been called recession proof.”
The nearby coliseum is not part of the proposed plans.
“I think that the Coliseum can be a perfect addition to the playoff of the plan as written,” said Marvin Stockwell, Co-Founder of Friends of The Fairgrounds.
Stockwell is hopeful the building will become even more attractive as the area improves. The city agrees.
“We think that there will be much more private interest once they know there will be such significant activity around the Coliseum,” said Young.
The project isn’t a done deal. City leaders told Local 24 News they’d be back in Nashville in nine months for funding approval. City leaders said they still need to find funds from the private sector for the project to get off the ground.
If all goes according to plan, officials could break ground on the project by the end of next year.
“Best case scenario,” said Young, “we’ll have a late opening in 2021 or early 2022.”