Officials with the the city’s Housing and Community Development division presented an updated plan to redevelop the Fairgrounds to the Memphis City Council on Tuesday.
Paul Young, director of of HCD, said the “wishlist” of amenities discussed in November were narrowed down into to a “workable plan,” bringing the total project cost down from $160 million to $100 million.
As originally presented, the centerpiece of the site would feature a youth sports complex. The 185,000-square-foot space would house an indoor track, 12 courts for basketball and volleyball, and space for gymnastics and cheer competitions, as well as fencing, wrestling, and other indoor sports.
HCD officials said the complex would be in the top 10 percent of youth sports complexes in the country and the only one within a 210-mile radius of the site.
Young said the space would probably hold about 50 events in the first year of operation and reach up to 80 by the fifth year.
In the first five years of operation, the local economic impact is projected to be about $120.5 million. After 30 years, that number rises to just under $1 billion.
Along with the plan for the sports complex, there is also a proposal to make improvements to the Liberty Bowl Stadium’s access gates, ticket booths, concessions, restrooms, signage, and suites.
Additionally, consistent with the original plan, an outdoor track and soccer football field is slated to be built in the southeast corner of the property.
Improvements will also be made to the Pipkin Building, Creative Arts Building, and site entrances to increase accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists.
While the redevelopment plan would result in the site losing about 2,300 of its current parking spots, a 285-car garage would be constructed adjacent to the sports complex and a 300-car lot would be built next to the outdoor fields.
The majority of the funding for the project would come from the state’s designation of a Tourists and Development Zone (TDZ).
In order for the mayor to submit the application for a TDZ zone to the state, the council must vote to authorize it. Because of new legislation, Young said the city has until the end of the year to receive approval from the state.
Additionally, Young said the Shelby County Commission must weigh in prior to state approval. The goal, Young said, is for the application to be submitted to the state by end of this month.
If the TDZ is approved at the state level, there will still be “a number of checks and balances” left in the process, Young said.
Depending on the revenue generated during the first phase, Young said a future phase might consist of improvements to Tobey Park and the Maxine Smith STEAM Academy.