A New Adventure For Pyramid

Three years after pitching their proposal to turn the site of the Pyramid Arena around, the Ericson Group presented a $100 million expansion to the Memphis, Tenn., project December 12th.

In addition to the initial plan of transforming the venue into an indoor theme park, Ericson Group’s $250 million Pyramid Adventure proposal includes a 200,000-square-foot open-air mall and a 350-room Pyramid-shaped hotel between the Pyramid and the Cook Convention Center, according to the Memphis Business Journal.

There’s also a $50 million investment on the Mud Island development, called Harbor Island, that will include a 15,000-seat amphitheatre, a second 300-400 room hotel and a floating maritime museum. An indoor/outdoor promenade of shops would be added along Wolf River as well as an aquarium or water park.

The 19,500-capacity Pyramid arena, which is one of the largest structures of that shape in the world, was shuttered in February after 15 years. Although it struggled for years, the last straw was the arrival of the 18,500-capacity FedExForum – which took with it Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis basketball games.

After the team’s move, the Pyramid and all other city-owned facilities had to get the OK from the team, which operates the venue, to host competing major events.

The city, which owns the Pyramid along with the country but is at the forefront of redeveloping the arena, has previously set its eyes on converting the venue into a retail store through a $45 million proposal by Bass Pro Shops.

Robert Lipscomb, the city project manager for Pyramid re-use, says the city owes it to Bass Pro Shops to stick with the retail plan because a letter of intent has marked January 31st as the date for the company to complete its due diligence and reach a binding lease agreement.

Some, like Memphis city commissioner Steve Mulroy, don’t have much hope in the deadline, especially since two previous letters of intent from Bass Pro, one dating back two years ago, haven’t gotten the Pyramid anywhere, according to Commercial Appeal.

"There should not be any extension past the January 31st deadline, first of all. "Second of all, the letter of intent does not preclude us from exploring alternatives," Mulroy said, according to Commercial Appeal.

"The ethical obligation we have is to the taxpayers of Shelby County, not Bass Pro. This is a better use for the Pyramid than a glorified bait shop," Mulory added, according to the Memphis Business Journal.

Greg Ericson, president and CEO of Ericson Group, said that the only local tax dollars requested would be no more than what was promised to Bass Pro because the project would be privately financed for the most part by Prosperity International, Essex Investment Partners and Ericson Group.

The proposal estimates that Pyramid Adventure will create between 3,000 to 3,500 jobs and bring in 1.5 million- 2 million visitors annually.