Re-opening the MidSouth Coliseum would cost $23 million, according to a group of local experts, a figure $7 million lower than previously projected.
City officials opened the now-vacant Coliseum to qualified groups of locals last month. One team, organized by the grassroots Coliseum Coalition and Save the MidSouth Coliseum, toured the building numerous times.
The team included experts in architecture, engineering, life safety code, accessibility, museum, and environmental issues. The experts were drawn from brg3s architects, SSR Engineering, Code Solutions Group, the Memphis Center for Independent Living, Design 500, and Restoration Clean.
Local architect Charles “Chooch” Pickard was a member of the team and said the building was in “great shape.”
“I’m delighted that after three visits looking at all of the challenges, our team’s opinion is that the issues are solvable and certainly not insurmountable as many previously believed,” Pickard said in a statement. “When creative minds come together to create solutions to the challenges in old buildings, it often leads to a change in perception about the feasibility of renovating a historic structure”
The team said the building’s heating and air systems would need to be replaced, as well as much of the plumbing and electrical systems, and all of the lighting throughout the building. Mold was found throughout the building, primarily in porous materials, and would need to be removed.
The team found that the building could be brought up to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by reconfiguring restrooms, adding ramps, and removing some seats. An elevator could be added to allow access to the press box and the upper levels.
Those are the issues to overcome if the building was opened again as an assembly venue for events, concerts, and the like. However, the Coalition is still weighing options on its end use, noting in a news release that the building could “serve many purposes or a combination of uses.”
“If used as an arena, we realize that the agreement between the city and the Grizzlies will need to be revisited,” Coalition president Mike McCarthy said in a statement. “Councilwoman Jamita Swearengen has graciously offered to help bring the parties to the table to discuss if any changes to the document can or need to be made.”