Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fairgrounds Arena Building Gets Reprieve; Youth Bldg. Part of Demolition

Posted By on Tue, Mar 9, 2010 at 3:02 PM

The Memphis City Council's executive committee today voted to demolish most of the buildings on the former fairgrounds and create a great lawn.

"It's probably better to tell you what's remaining," said architect and former council member Tom Marshall. "The children's museum and its annex, and buildings that park services is using for storage will remain; Fairview will remain, and the women's center will remain."

After concerns were raised about the fairgrounds arena building by councilman Jim Strickland, the committee voted to postpone demolition of the building.

After the Mid-South Coliseum was closed, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl began using the arena building for pre-game festivities. As part of the original plan presented today, the city offered the group use of a large tent until a replacement venue could be erected.

The Liberty Bowl pays the city about $20,000 for the use of the arena building, but a tent large enough to hold the 5,000 attendees would cost $100,000.

"It's been our understanding that the city would provide a tent at the same cost we paid in the past for the use of the Coliseum or the arena building," said AutoZone Liberty Bowl executive director Steve Ehrhart.

"It may be more cost effective to leave the arena building up," CAO George Little told the council.

Marshall cautioned the council that they needed to get started within the next two weeks if they wanted a Great Lawn by the first game of the season.

And the location of the arena building? Right in the middle of where the Great Lawn will be.

Another building also in the Great Lawn area is the youth building, currently home to Memphis Roller Derby. After representatives from the city told council members the derby has secured another location — as a volunteer of the organization, I can say that's *not* true — concerns about the youth building were dropped, and the building was included in the demolition plans.

As it stands now, the roller derby is still looking for a permanent home. The group has continued weekly practices in the Youth Building for as long as the city will allow, and bouts — there's one this Saturday night, by the way — have been scheduled at the FunQuest in Collierville.

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