Organizers of this Saturday's Roundhouse Revival event hope to create more enthusiasm around saving the Mid-South Coliseum.
A group of community activists led by Marvin Stockwell, Jordan Danelz, and Mike McCarthy formed the Coliseum Coalition earlier this year to try and spare the Coliseum from the wrecking ball. They have already sparked a bit of a revival for the building, putting the long-shuttered Coliseum back on the minds of Memphians.
They hope the Roundhouse Revival event — May 23rd from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Coliseum — gets people physically close to the building with promises of food, beer, music, and, of course, some good old Memphis wrestling. But Coalition members hope people get emotionally close to Coliseum, too, by seeing its promise and making their ideas part of the public discourse on its future.
Stockwell said progress is being made, city leaders are hearing the group's ideas, and that new and potentially viable ideas for the Coliseum are springing up. — Toby Sells
Flyer: What has changed since we spoke in February?
Marvin Stockwell: Things have moved from feeling fairly adversarial [with city leaders] and a little David-versus-Goliath to much more collegial and friendly. Specifically,
we're working with [city director of Housing and Community Development] Robert Lipscomb now directly. We've had a half a dozen conversations with him and a few meetings.
What is the biggest goal for the
What we really want is a fresh batch of input on the Fairgrounds plot and the fate of the Coliseum. There has been input on it, but most is about eight years old. .... I sat across the table from Robert Lipscomb and he said virtually the same thing.
What are the biggest changes you've seen coming out of Memphis City Hall?
They are sponsors of our event. So, that backs up — beyond a shadow of a doubt — that Robert Lipscomb and the city means what it says. The second piece of evidence on that front is ... Robert Lipscomb is bringing in the National Charrette Institute and the Urban Land Institute to get public input on the projects, city precinct by city precinct.
Will people be allowed inside the Coliseum Saturday?
We're not going to be able to get in. It's not a matter of never, but the things we'd have to do between now and [Saturday] ...we've run out of runway.
Are any viable re-uses for the building being explored now?
Former Harlem Globetrotter LaMont Robinson would like to move the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame [now based in Cleveland] to a renovated Coliseum.
Another idea is the Wrestling Hall of Fame, and it's worth noting that [Memphis wrestlers] Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee are very much behind the idea.
Another idea ... and all I'll say is I do know that one of the silent partners of [Wiseacre Brewing] took a tour of the Coliseum. There's some connection there. We still don't know who it is, but I'll bet they're going to be there [Saturday].
What do you want people to know before they come out to the event?
Come prepared to have a blast. We have an amazing lineup. Second of all, bring your best re-use ideas for the Coliseum and for the Fairgrounds. Dream as big as you can possibly dream because the Fairgrounds and the Coliseum are too huge an opportunity to get this wrong. We need all the smart minds we can get to think about the best use for them.