With the new year approaching, only a Flyer columnist can foresee the events of 2003 and print them too. With apologies to William Safire, a look into the future:
1. The big arena story in 2003 will be: A) cost overruns push the price above $300 million; B) sloppy work by the general contractor leads to convention- center-style delays; C) consultants come under scrutiny for fees and kickbacks.
2. Once everyone agrees to let the University of Memphis out of its lease with The Pyramid, serious attention will be given to: A) demolition to make room for housing and an office headquarters; B) a Native-American-owned casino; C) a shopping mall centered around a massive Bass Pro Shop and indoor pond.
3. The person to watch on the Shelby County Commission in 2003 will be: A) Marilyn Loeffel, a conservative who will emerge as an unpredictable swing vote; B) David Lillard, who will play tough cop in the down-and-dirty; C) Walter Bailey, who will surprise people by reintroducing the Shelby Farms Conservancy plan.
4. When Chris Peck takes over as editor of The Commercial Appeal, readers will see that what he means by community journalism is: A) playing Memphis booster to increase circulation; B) caving in to the advertising side to boost revenue; C) jazzing up a stodgy newspaper to win credibility with reporters and editors.
5. The person whose services will most be missed by Memphians in 2003 will be: A) Memphis Grizzlies' injured guard Michael Dickerson, who will be unable to make a comeback; B) Rick Masson, a model of competence and integrity as chief administrative officer for the city of Memphis; C) weatherman Dave Brown, who will take early retirement and move to California.
6. Alabama football booster Logan Young will be: A) indicted and convicted based on the unwavering testimony of Lynn Lang; B) indicted, tried, and acquitted based on the shaky testimony of Lang and Milton Kirk; C) saying "I told you so."
7. The public servant most likely to lose his or her job in 2003 will be: A) County Commission administrator Calvin Williams because of a reconsideration of the 7-6 vote that saved his job; B) Circuit Court administrator George Reems because of conflict-of-interest moonlighting; C) Memphis City Schools board member Sara Lewis because of continuing blowups with Johnnie B. Watson.
8. The quote that will come back to haunt its author in 2003 will be: A) Commissioner Loeffel's coupling her grief over Calvin Williams' misdeeds with her grief over the death of Sheriff's Deputy George Selby; B) Jerry West's high regard for the coaching abilities of Hubie Brown; C) George Flinn's interest in buying The Pyramid.
9. The most surprising story of 2003 will be: A) the resignation of University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari; B) the Grizzlies make the NBA playoffs; C) the revelation of a suspect in the terrorist-style attack on Shelby County Medical Examiner O.C. Smith.
10. The first big story of 2003 to be blamed on the economy will be: A) the collapse of the Memphis office and warehouse real estate market; B) the financial unraveling of the Memphis Redbirds as sponsors bail out of their long-term agreements; C) the closing of another Tunica casino.
11. The next showdown at the Memphis Board of Education will be over: A) The Commercial Appeal's refusal to back up its claim that HVAC costs are grossly inflated; B) the closing of a city school because of mold fears; C) a "he/she goes or I go" blowout between Watson and Lewis.
12. The Tennessee lottery will be: A) a nonstory because the General Assembly will ignore the referendum and decline to pass the enabling legislation; B) the gateway to casino gambling in Tennessee; C) forced to revise its financial projections downward as lawmakers and the media take a closer look.
13. The sports turnaround of 2003 will be: A) the Tiger basketball team, which will make the NCAA Tournament thanks to the inspired play of Chris Massie; B) the Tiger football team, which will go to a bowl thanks to the inspired play of Danny Wimprine; C) the Grizzlies recover to win 29 games, thanks to the inspired play of Jason Williams.
14. The most successful new retail offering of 2003 in Memphis will be: A) Malco's movie theater next to the Racquet Club in East Memphis; B) new tenants in Peabody Place; C) a break-the-mold Target store in Collierville.
15. The national media will be sniping at Memphis because of: A) the fight fiasco involving Mike Tyson and Tonya Harding, which draws a scant 8,000 fans; B) the National Civil Rights Museum expansion, which is dubbed a memorial to James Earl Ray; C) Elvis Presley's Memphis, which is forced to close without the hype of a 25th anniversary.
My answers: 1. C; 2. C; 3. B; 4. C; 5. B; 6. C; 7. B; 8. A; 9. C; 10. B; 11. A; 12. C; 13. C; 14. A; 15. B n