Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Out of hibernation

Y'all, I am about to wade into something I shouldn't, but as Geoff Calkins says every morning, there is something I want to talk about first.

Last night was a great night for Democrats around the country, as the first signs of anti-Trump Backlash showed up.  We may yet win the Virginia House of Delegates, and there are lots and lots of reasons for Democrats to feel great about last night.  That said, We cannot rest because it was an anti-trump backlash, we have to get out there and show people why they should vote FOR us!

We need every legislative seat that is held by a Republican to be challenged by a Democrat, no matter where they are.  We need a clear direct message as to why we are the superior PARTY with superior candidates with a superior PLATFORM.  No more 99 campaigns, 99 messages.

Rant over.

And now, to piss off all of Midtown, here we go!  I have lived in Memphis 45 years.  My first indoor concert was in 1975 at the Mid-South Coliseum, with Elvin Bishop, Charlie Daniels and the Marshall Tucker Band.  I first stepped into the Coliseum in February 1968 at the Mid-South Sport, Boat, Vacation, and Travel Show, the first of many such events, and that was BEFORE I moved here.

I truly hoped the building could be saved and renovated, and I appreciate the work of the Coliseum Coalition, especially Chooch Pickard and Roy Barnes.  That said, I was not surprised by the Strickland Administration's decision to maintain the MSC at a minimum level rather than a complete renovation.

The administration studied the hell out of the situation to see what use it still had as an event facility.  What they discovered is that, even with the full renovation, it was unlikely that the facility would be in the black, financially, and the city would be stuck with the operating costs.

The truth of the matter is this: The Coliseum has not been the primary arena for this area since the Pyramid opened in 1991.  Had the Pyramid not been built, it is likely that an on-campus arena for the Memphis Tigers would have been built, and the FedEx Forum would still have been built to house the Memphis Grizzlies.

That the MSC has held up better than expected is not surprising, nor is it the issue.  Even with a renovation, the MSC would be the THIRD arena in the area, not even the SECOND, which would still be Landers Center in Southaven.  Even with a full renovation, the Grizzlies would keep the G-League Hustle in Southaven as a marketing tool for DeSoto County and North Mississippi.

Not to mention the fact that Landers loses money and has to be subsidized by DeSoto County even with the event schedule that they have.  That, more than any other reason, I suspect, was why the Administration decided not to renovate the MSC.

Note: They decided not to bulldoze it, either.    This means the work of the Coalition is not done unless they flat just give up.  If they can find or create a group similar to the Levitt Organization to renovate and manage the building, I suspect the Mayor would be delighted to provide assistance, just not $40 Million worth.

No one wants to see it go, but it will never be what it was, and we need to realize this fact.  I think Chooch and Roy understood this from the get-go, and worked within those parameters.  However, those who thought that the MSC would ever be the primary arena for the region again were doomed to disappointment.  The Beatles are not coming back through those doors.

I know Midtowners feel like their foundations are crumbling, with Brooks Museum moving to a greatly-needed newer and larger building downtown, and Memphis College of Art announcing its closure after nearly a century.  I suspect that either Rhodes or the U of M Art Department will step up for the vacated buildings in Overton Park, and things will be just fine.  Midtown is wonderful, but it is not the ONLY part of Memphis.  The Administration has to support EVERY part of the city and look at the future when they do it.   They have to look at everything, not just one area. 

I am disappointed, too.  This decision is about what this city will look like after most of the readers of this blog post are gone, not just about right now.  Coalition, keep working to find private assistance; if it can be done with the Concourse, the Orpheum, and the Riverfront, anything is possible.

As St. Jude Hospital proves every single day, you only lose when you give up.  Don't give up.

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