Graceland to Contest Grizzlies' Non-Compete Clause in Court


Rendering of original proposed event center - ELVIS PRESLEY ENTERPRISES
  • Elvis Presley Enterprises
  • Rendering of original proposed event center

Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) is legally challenging the Memphis Grizzlies’ non-compete agreement that is blocking it from adding a concert hall to Graceland.

The Grizzlies’ FedexForum use agreement with the city bans other publically-funded places in the city from holding concerts with more than 5,000 attendees, but EPE has filed a declaratory judgement action with the Chancery Court of Shelby County to contest that, officials announced Wednesday.

After EPE agreed to change its plans from constructing a 6,200-seat concert hall to a multi-purpose facility between 50,000 and 75,000 square feet, City officials said they would still have the ability to sue for any damages caused to the city if the Grizzlies were to leave Memphis.

EPE officials also say that a representative for the Grizzlies told the enterprise that even if the multi-purpose facility is permitted, it would have usage limitations until the end of the franchise’s agreement with the FedexForum.

However, EPE's statement points out that the proposed multi-purpose facility is “substantially similar to the facility now proposed by the city of Memphis for the Fairgrounds,” which would operate with no limitations.

“Since no reasonable business person would have agreed to these two limitations, Elvis Presley Enterprises was left with no choice but to protect both itself and the city of Memphis by filing a declaratory judgment action, so that it can move forward with its business plans, continue to invest heavily in the Graceland campus in the Whitehaven community of Memphis, and bring more jobs and increase tourism in the community, Greater Memphis and Shelby County,” EPE’s statement read.

Depending on the court's ruling, EPE will move forward with it's original proposal for the 6,200 seat space or the multi-purpose facility. The original $50 million proposal also includes additional museum and retail spaces.

In response to EPE's decision, the city's chief legal officer Bruce McMullen issued a statement calling EPE's press release "misleading." The city's statement reads:

"At the center of this issue is whether the City of Memphis would violate the non-complete clause in the contract with the Memphis Grizzlies by using public money to finance a concert or convention center venue that competes with [the] FedexForum.

The City has worked in good faith to attempt to negotiate with Elvis Presley Enterprises to find a suitable resolution for its concerns. The administration is shocked that EPE would use a misleading press statement and a lawsuit to try [to] advance its position in the negotiations.

We don't object to Graceland building a 6,200-seat venue. That option is available to it without the use of public funds, and it is free to do so."

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