Fresh off a trip to the NCAA Finals, University of Memphis basketball coach John Calipari will join the RDC board this summer, replacing John Pontius, who is resigning because of other commitments. The announcement was made at the RDC's quarterly meeting on Monday.
Meanwhile, another well-known Memphis name, former First Tennessee Bank chairman Ron Terry, will have to wait a while longer before a riverfront plaza named for him gets underway. Funded by First Tennessee and proposed in 1996, the plaza was originally envisioned to overlook the cobblestones between Tom Lee Park and Jefferson Davis Park. A lighted sidewalk along Riverside Drive was built several years ago, but the plaza has been on hold while the RDC decides what to do with the cobblestones.
RDC President Benny Lendermon said "there are some issues with Ron Terry Plaza" and it may have to be modified or moved to another location. The RDC secured a $6 million federal grant to restore and enhance the cobblestones.
In other action, the RDC announced that Alisson Krauss and Robert Plant will give a concert at Mud Island Amphitheater on July 8th. Mud Island River Park opened April 12th with upgrades to the museum and other attractions. General admission is still free. Tethered balloon rides will be offered May 1-3, weather permitting.
Tom Lee Park is being prepared for the Beale Street Music Festival and Memphis In May, which starts Thursday. Promoters spent $1.5 million on musical talent this year, according to Memphis In May International Festival President Jim Holt.
Memphis In May pays the RDC $80,000 a year for use of Tom Lee Park. The RDC does not charge a fee to users and events that don't charge admission, including the Beale Street Merchants Association summer event and the Stone Soul Picnic.
Lendermon said Beale Street Landing will hold a ground-breaking in July or August, when construction begins on a $4.9 million retaining wall at Tom Lee Park that will add four more acres of land. Total cost of the project is pegged at $29 million in federal, state, and local funds. Lendermon said the cost in public funds will not exceed that figure.
The RDC budget will come before the Memphis City Council in May, with the operations portion on May 8th and capital improvements agenda on May 21st. The RDC's 2008 budget includes revenues of $1.53 million, employee compensation of $2.38 million, and other operating expenses of $1.8 million. The agency gets $2.27 million from the city of Memphis plus $480,000 in private grants.