Memphis Grizzlies fans are about to be inundated with advertising for Memphis International Airport, thanks to a $176,000 three-year advertising deal approved by the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority at their board meeting Thursday morning.
Memphis Grizzly Tony Allen will be the airport's new spokesmodel, and he'll be shooting some advertising materials soon. Airport ads will be placed all around FedExForum, and the airport authority will table in the lobby at home games. The authority will hold giveaways in which fans can win tickets and free airfare to away games. Memphis International Airport will even get a mention on a Grizzlies growl towel.
"We want to have all that grit and grind come to the airport as we grind our way into the future," said Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority President Scott Brockman.
Board member J.W. Gibson was the only dissenting vote on the board. He said he didn't disapprove of the partnership but that he wanted a clearer picture of what exactly the $176,000 price tag would include.
Out-going board chair Jack Sammons argued that the marketing deal was important to restore faith in the airport after years of high fares and diminished service. He said the airport's reputation was improving though, and he thought this deal could help.
"In the past few years, I've given more speeches about this airport than Billy Graham has about his Lord and Savior," Sammons said.
Speaking of Sammons, this was his last meeting as chair of the airport authority. In May, he'll be starting his new position as chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis. As the meeting wrapped up, Sammons shared a few last words.
"It's no secret that I'm passionate about this job. It was a difficult decision for me to decide where my energy could best be used," Sammons said. "But you're not completely getting rid of me. I won't be sitting around the table, but I will be a supportive utensil for you folks. The mayor has appointed me as a special envoy to the airport authority."
Sammons thanked his fellow board members and gave a special shout-out to Brockman.
"When you're going to an airport meeting with Scott, it's like going to Vegas with Frank Sinatra. He is cherished by the industry and highly respected," Sammons said.
Sammons ended the meeting with these words: "I salute you all, and as General McArthur said, 'Like that old soldier, it never dies. It'll just fade away.' So perhaps I'll just fade away."