On January 1st, Mayor Willie Herenton surprised those attending his traditional New Year's Day prayer breakfast by proposing that Memphians consider tearing down Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and replacing it with a new stadium at the Fairgrounds.
On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council received a consultant's report on the feasibility of a new stadium and promptly voted to delay further discussion of it until December. Here is a "progress report" on the stadium proposal for the last nine months.
January 1, 2007
Theme: "On the Wall," the title of the mayor's breakfast speech.
Venue: Press conference after breakfast at Memphis Cook Convention Center.
Handout. Six stapled-together pages of color pictures of pro and college football stadiums in Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Louisville.
Cost estimate: $63 million (Louisville) to $300 million (Detroit)
Research/Professionalism: College student hoping for a C grade.
Supporting cast: UM's R. C. Johnson and CVB's Kevin Kane.
Big idea: Replace rather than refurbish the Liberty Bowl.
Reaction: Say what?
February 20, 2007
Theme: "Project Nexus: Fairgrounds master plan and new stadium proposal."
Venue: Lobby of City Hall
Handout: Four-page press release and 40-page plastic-covered report.
Cost estimate: $150 million to $185 million.
Research/Professionalism: Five-figure consulting job, Power-Point style.
Supporting cast: Various directors and mayoral staff.
Big idea: Economic development with fiscal restraint. No property taxes.
Reaction: Harold Byrd and other UM boosters push for on-campus stadium.
September 18, 2007
Theme: "Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Development Options."
Venue: City Council committee room.
Handout: 136-page report.
Cost estimate: $21 million for renovation to $217 million for new stadium.
Research/Professionalism: Six-figure consulting job, with footnotes.
Supporting cast: Chief Financial Officer Robert Lipscomb.
Big idea: Report covers all the bases, but was "edited" before release.
Reaction: Put it away until December, two months after election.
Meanwhile, the University of Memphis Tigers defeated Jacksonville State Saturday before an estimated 28,000 fans at the 62,000-seat stadium.