Gone Fishin'

The city and county get closer to landing Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.

| August 14, 2008
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- Courtesy Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau

Bass Pro Shops might have finally taken the bait.

After a Pyramid Reuse Committee meeting last week, it seems the outdoors retailer is close to signing a deal for the former arena.

Though a July 31st deadline passed without an agreement between Bass Pro and local government, attorneys for both parties say they have reached a "pre-development agreement."

Though the agreement is only verbal, reuse committee members decided to extend the agreement deadline to September 15th.

Shelby County chief administrative officer and Pyramid Reuse Committee head Jim Huntzicker hopes to see the details of the development agreement soon.

"If we're talking about getting something going by the end of this month or early September, we need to have the papers in front of us in the next day or so," Huntzicker told the committee. "We need to have the agreement in our hands. It's going to take time to review all the materials."

Once the development agreement is signed, Bass Pro will have a year to complete and sign a lease agreement. Under the development agreement, Bass Pro will pay $35,000 a month for the Pyramid. The company also will have three months to reach certain architectural, engineering, and budgetary deadlines.

Shelby County commissioner Deidre Malone is a member of the negotiating team.

"If at any time we feel that they are not moving forward in good faith, we can say that we want out," she says.

If either party does opt out after the development agreement is signed, Bass Pro will be required to pay $500,000 to the city in termination fees.

Malone recently participated in a conference call with Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, City Council member Reid Hedgepeth, and Bass Pro president Jim Hagel.

"Jim Hagel made it very clear to us that the lawyers were comfortable with the agreement, and if they were to get it to him the next day, he'd sign it because he's ready to come to Memphis," Malone says.

Pyramid reuse project manager Robert Lipscomb says bringing in Bass Pro Shops will make Memphis a huge tourist destination.

"This, along with Graceland, will make us the next tourist mecca," Lipscomb says. "Memphis is on the move, and this is going to put us over the top."

Since Bass Pro has been given an extended deadline, any other Pyramid offers — including a $12 million bid from Cummings Street Missionary Baptist Church — have been tabled for now.

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