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Herenton's Stadium Proposal: A Brief History

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On January 1st, Mayor Willie Herenton surprised those attending his traditional New Year's Day prayer breakfast by proposing that Memphians consider tearing down Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and replacing it with a new stadium at the Fairgrounds.

On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council received a consultant's report on the feasibility of a new stadium and promptly voted to delay further discussion of it until December. Here is a "progress report" on the stadium proposal for the last nine months.

January 1, 2007

Theme: "On the Wall," the title of the mayor's breakfast speech.

Venue: Press conference after breakfast at Memphis Cook Convention Center.

Handout. Six stapled-together pages of color pictures of pro and college football stadiums in Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Louisville.

Cost estimate: $63 million (Louisville) to $300 million (Detroit)

Research/Professionalism: College student hoping for a C grade.

Supporting cast: UM's R. C. Johnson and CVB's Kevin Kane.

Big idea: Replace rather than refurbish the Liberty Bowl.

Reaction: Say what?

February 20, 2007

Theme: "Project Nexus: Fairgrounds master plan and new stadium proposal."

Venue: Lobby of City Hall

Handout: Four-page press release and 40-page plastic-covered report.

Cost estimate: $150 million to $185 million.

Research/Professionalism: Five-figure consulting job, Power-Point style.

Supporting cast: Various directors and mayoral staff.

Big idea: Economic development with fiscal restraint. No property taxes.

Reaction: Harold Byrd and other UM boosters push for on-campus stadium.

September 18, 2007

Theme: "Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Development Options."

Venue: City Council committee room.

Handout: 136-page report.

Cost estimate: $21 million for renovation to $217 million for new stadium.

Research/Professionalism: Six-figure consulting job, with footnotes.

Supporting cast: Chief Financial Officer Robert Lipscomb.

Big idea: Report covers all the bases, but was "edited" before release.

Reaction: Put it away until December, two months after election.

Meanwhile, the University of Memphis Tigers defeated Jacksonville State Saturday before an estimated 28,000 fans at the 62,000-seat stadium.

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