Zippin Pippin May Find a Home at The Pyramid

The Zippin Pippin may find a new home if Memphis, Shelby County, and their mayors approve a private consulting group's bid to build a downtown theme park.

"We have agreed with Ericson Group to move the Zippin Pippin downtown," county commissioner Steven Mulroy told reporters Monday afternoon.

The Ericson Group has been in discussions with Mulroy's Save Libertyland!, Inc. group for a little more than three months regarding Pyramid Harbor. The proposed project, which Mulroy is backing, consists of two elements -- Pyramid Resorts and Harbor Island.

The project will redevelop The Pyramid as well as the neighboring Mud Island River Park into a "year-round indoor theme park, upscale retailing and dining venues, a 15,000 seat outdoor amphitheater and two hotels, according to Pyramid Harbor project announcements.

The project will cost Ericson Group $250 million, with another estimated $50 million from the federal government if the plan receives approval. One million dollars of total project costs will be used to relocate and renovate the Zippin Pippin, which has been unused since the fall of 2005.

Last year, the 2,865-foot-long, 70-foot-tall wooden structure was placed in the National Register of Historic Places and Ericson Group has agreed to cover the costs of buying and operating in addition to the relocation and renovation costs.

Mulroy and Ericson were asked if it would be cheaper to build a new version of the Zippin Pippin, but both said cost estimates were about the same.

"If we can't save Libertyland itself, we can at least save its two crown-jewel rides," Mulroy said.

At the next City Council meeting, Ericson will propose the Pyramid Harbor and hopes it will begin the approval process at least by February if not earlier.

"Our goal is to have two million visitors a year."

-- Yann Ranaivo

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