MEMPHIS The mayor of Memphis says this year is a good time to reconsider the prospects of a new convention center.
The Memphis Daily News reported that Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. has cited a dollar figure of $600 million for a new convention center to compete with cities like Nashville.
Downtown’s Cook Convention Center is currently the main location for conventions and business meetings in Memphis. It underwent a major renovation in 2005.
Wharton says his administration plans to reopens discussions about a new convention center. Five years ago, then-Mayor Willie Herenton talked of building a new convention center or expanding the existing one. Neither idea stuck.
“This is not something that we have to look at strictly in terms of how much are you going to spend on it,” Wharton said in a Jan. 9 speech to the Memphis Kiwanis Club. “We have to look at it in terms of how much are you willing to invest to keep one of our strongest economic engines viable.”
Wharton did refer to the construction of the FedExForum about a mile from an old arena, The Pyramid, when the Pyramid was less than 15 years old. The Memphis Tigers moved to the FedExForum after it was built.
Officials struggled to find a new tenant for The Pyramid until Bass Pro Shops decided to move in.
“If you build a new one, what will happen to the one that you now have?” Wharton asked. “I don’t want to get into another position similar to the one we got into with The Pyramid.”