Here's what some people with a connection to The Pyramid back when it was built had to say. The comments have been minimally edited for brevity.
But that was then, this is now. What do you think? Please keep comments brief and on point, with no personal attacks.
Bill Morris, former mayor of Shelby County (when The Pyramid was approved and built): "I really like Greg Ericson's plan for a theme park. I think it is pretty exciting. They are ready to go, it sounds to me l. I prefer it to Bass Pro, with the caveat that I don't know all the details. I remember Greg from way back and he was always trying to do something for downtown. I've always been impressed with his thoroughness and support team. Downtown could use something for families. I have seen Bass Pro stores and they are exciting. But I don't know that it encompasses the marketing opportunities that the Ericson proposal does for making Memphis a destination city."
Dick Hackett, former mayor of Memphis (when The Pyramid was approved and built). "Bass Pro would be a major anchor tenant and attractor to the city. I say attractor, not just attraction. They're a fabulous organization. I have been to many of them around the country. I am a sportsman, and I live on a street named Sportsman Drive. I have watched busloads of people line up to get in. The real issue now is the math. Does it work for Bass Pro and does it work for the taxpayer? When you look at no revenue and only expense, you start there. The city makes their money at cash registers inside and outside the building, not on real estate deals. The Children's Museum (Hackett is CEO) would have a direct benefit as an attraction for families to come to next."
Pat Kerr Tigrett, downtown booster, designer, and widow of Pyramid visionary John Tigrett. "Whatever goes in there, the key is being successful. The Pyramid represented an amazing, happy, and frustrating time for my late husband. It is a positive welcoming icon to our city, and it's responsible for the NBA coming to Memphis. But it was built to recognize our music heritage too. If Bass Pro is 100 percent coming in, then I wish them success. If I had my druthers, I would like something with music potential, but who knows, maybe there is some way they can incorporate our music heritage. I have not seen the final plans."
Kerr Tigrett, son of Pat and John Tigrett, now running an import-export company in Memphis. "As the icon to our city, it needs to have a tenant that contributes back and provides new opportunities. And if that is Bass Pro, then so be it."
Jim Rout, former Shelby County mayor and commissioner and currently general manager and COO of the Mid-South Fair. "I have visited a number of Bass Pros when traveling, and they are first-rate deals. From afar, I sort of like the idea of a combination of Bass and Ericson. That's easy to say but maybe difficult to work out. No pun intended, it is time to fish or cut bait for Bass Pro. We have an opportunity to encourage those people to talk to each other and let pyramid and island both have something out of it. I voted against The Pyramid because I was opposed to the location, not the Pyramid itself. It doesnt need to sit there vacant. If Bass Pro isn't going to come forward, and I hope they do, we need to get something else going on there."
Jeff Sanford, chief executive of the Center City Commission, former Memphis City Council member, and part of last weeks delegation to Bass Pro. "I was on the Pyramid reuse committee. Our consultant steered us toward destination retail like Bass Pro. If I were making the decision I would look at feasibility and take a very, very hard look at financing. Then look at sustainability, can the use survive in the marketplace over time, and would the city and county indebtedness be assumed by the project. I would very seriously consider Bass Pro as having the track record and financial wherewithal."
Vasco Smith, former Shelby County Commission member. "I don't know much about the different suggestions. I just saw the headline in the paper this morning. I can say that when I was on the commission at the time The Pyramid was built I did not like the proposal from the start. I went down there one night and looked over the site and it was a dark and dismal sort of thing. It was envisioned as a gold and glistening signature for the city, seen from miles and miles away. And it ended up in one of the lowest doggone spots in Memphis, with a railroad running through it. I think the whole thing was a failure from the beginning. I am not sure any of the proposals at the present time are that good. It's going to take a lot of money and thought from the people involved."
Greg Hnedak, architect, Hnedak Bobo Group, which was closely involved with an earlier proposal, now defunct, for a NARAS music museum in The Pyramid. "The city and county should now rate or rank the merits of both proposals. I think they both could be very successful ventures. The question now is who is willing to put some hard money at risk to advance the project. I have had contact with both of them but am not working for either group. Both have a lot of merit."
Henry Turley, developer of HarborTown and Uptown, which are neighbors to The Pyramid: "I think it's a great fit for Bass Pro and for Memphis. I hope it anchors the revitalization of The Pinch and links Uptown, downtown, and St. Jude into one seamless whole. Excellent work by Robert Lipscomb." (Full disclosure: Turley is part owner of Flyer parent company CMI.)
Carol Chumney, former member of the General Assembly, Memphis City Council, and 2007 candidate for mayor of Memphis: "I find it incredible that the Pyramid has sat empty for so long. It makes the most sense to have a tenant or owner that will help sell the idea of Memphis based upon its heritage in connection with the rest of the world. Does the Bass Pro theme fit with the concept of marketing our musical heritage? Since I'm not aware of Elvis being known to ever go fishing, I don't think so. And I'm opposed to the idea of a big fish on our landmark even if there is a Bass Pro because it will be just another joke on Jay Leno."
Pat Carter, CEO of Olympic Staffing, member of the Memphis Sports Authority, and member of Pyramid Building Authority: "I think Ericson's proposal is better for Memphis. It offers a lot more than Bass Pro is offering. I think what we need in Memphis is something to attract people from outside as well as inside of Memphis. I think children in cars will say, 'Mommy, Daddy, we want to go there." I believe we are out-of-step with a number of things going on around here. If we do not make our move now and capitalize at this moment then I think someone else will, south of us, in Tunica."
My Two Cents Worth: I'm a Bass Pro fan. I don't hunt or fish much but I like to look at all the paraphernalia Bass Pro puts in its bigger stores, which are part store, part food court, part museum/tourist trap, and part arcade. I always wind up spending about $40 on things I dont really need. No admission charge is a plus in my book. So is the track record and cautious approach they have taken so far. It should work well with the river, the harbor, and Ducks Unlimited. And the top of The Pyramid is a great space for something. I hope this happens sooner rather than later so they can make that accessible.