An army of hard-hatted, neon-vested construction workers paused their work briefly Tuesday for a tour inside the mammoth shell of the Pyramid as Bass Pro Shops officials invited Memphis leaders and media members for a look at the progress there.
Company officials predicted Tuesday the store will open by December. When it does, it will be the second largest Bass Pro in the country.
New details about the project emerged at Tuesday's tour. The hotel inside the store, called Big Cypress Lodge, has been expanded from 56 rooms to about 100 and will feature a spa and fitness facility. An alligator pit will be built around the base of two interior elevators that will take guests to the top of the Pyramid that will have an expanded viewing area, and a restaurant.
“There will be two large, glass, cantilevered decks that will be added to the south and west (top portion) of the Pyramid,” said Tom Jowett, vice-president of design and development for Bass Pro Shops. “This will allow people to walk out (over the edge) similar to the way people can walk out on the Grand Canyon.”
The main floor of the store will feature large, swamped-themed water features like a lake, a stream, and a river. It will also have two cypress tree sculptures that will rise 100 feet from the store floor. The Ducks Unlimited National Waterfowling Heritage Center on the store’s second floor will have an aviary for ducks. The store will also have Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl, which will have 13 lanes of fish-themed bowling.
Bass Pro took over the construction at the site in October after the city completed interior demolition, the removal of the seating, seismic protections and the replacement of the heating and cooling systems.
Construction workers are now putting in steel supports for the tree sculptures and the in-ground structures to support the elevators. Demolition of the floor is underway for the alligator pit and water features.
The project will create 500 permanent jobs in Memphis, company officials said Tuesday, with 300 of them working in the Pyramid.
Television angler Bill Dance said Tuesday Bass Pro president Jim Hagel tasked him with the decision to open a store in the Pyramid eight years ago. Unable to come up with a decision, Hegel suggested he and Dance go fishing on the Mississippi River close to Memphis. If they caught a 30-pound catfish, they’d take on the project, Dance said.
“We caught a 32-pound catfish and we released that old fish.,” Dance said Tuesday. “She’s still out there swimming. So, if you catch her, give her a pat on the head and a big hug and thank her for this great facility. We’re here eight years later.”