Wiseacre Brewing will not move into the Mid-South Coliseum (at least for now) and a local grassroots group said the move won't stop “the momentum to reopen the landmark.”
City officials announced Monday that the company said it was not ready to move into the long-vacant building but will still consider it an option.
Last year, the Memphis brewery was given an option to lease the building from the city government. Memphis City Council members approved a lease on the building for the company and gave Wiseacre officials six months to determine whether or not the Coliseum fit its expansion needs.
“At the conclusion of its period of exclusive study late last week, Wiseacre Brewing Company informed us that it is not positioned to move forward with a lease of the Mid-South Coliseum,” Doug McGowen, the city’s chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Wiseacre has not eliminated it as an option, but all parties now understand that the exclusive period has passed. We thank Wiseacre for its interest and we continue to encourage its growth in our city.”
The grassroots Coliseum Coalition, too, thanked Wiseacre “for the love and attention they brought” to the Coliseum.
“Although many of us are disappointed that they won’t be expanding their operations in the building, Wiseacre’s efforts show that the Coliseum is a building of the future,” Coliation president Roy Barnes. “We won’t lose the energy and imagination that this great company has put into this great building as we move forward to that future.”
McGowan said the next steps for the building will be to convene stakeholders of the Mid-South Fairgrounds around the Urban Land Use Institute study from 2015. He said the group will work to submit a Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) application to state officials by this fall.
“Our group will view the entire Fairgrounds and surrounding area and will include for consideration all of the previous public input and development ideas that were gathered in earlier discussions,” McGowen said.
Charles “Chooch” Pickard, the Coalition’s vice president, the Coliseum “is in excellent shape” and can meet the necessary challenges to re-open it. But Pickard said any process to re-open the Coliseum must be done with with patience and in public.
“We cannot afford a first-come, first-serve approach to these great public spaces,” Pickard said. The Fairgrounds and Coliseum deserve the best. Memphis deserves that.”
Last month, Wiseacre officials said they are simply out of space to brew any more beer at their Broad Avenue brewery and taproom.