The Memphis City Council voted Tuesday to end the $5 cover charge to enter Beale Street on Saturday nights during peak seasons.
As a temporary measure, the cover charge was implemented in May to replace the Beale Street Bucks voucher program, but Tuesday the council voted 6 to 3 in favor of repealing the charge completely.
Council member Jamita Swearengen made the motion to “rid ourselves of the $5 fee.” The motion was supported by Patrice Robinson, Joe Brown, Edmund Ford, Jr., Martavius Jones, and Frank Colvett. While council members Kemp Conrad, Philip Spinosa, Jr., and Worth Morgan voted in favor of keeping the charge. Chairman Berlin Boyd recused himself from the vote because of his position on the Beale Street Task Force.
Before the vote, Morgan argued that the council should wait before taking any action, saying there’s no “overriding emergency” to make a decision now, as the $5 charge would not have been put in place again until the spring.
The council also voted to hire a crowd control consultant for $50,000 to assess ways to control the crowd on Beale without the cover charge. The consultant's fee would be paid from existing Beale Street Bucks revenue.
With the cover charge repealed, Spinosa told his colleagues he thought “it’s a complete waste of $50,000.”
However, Jones said with the fee gone, more people will likely frequent the street and make the crowd control study more effective.