Herenton's Stadium Proposal: A Brief History 

On January 1st, Mayor Willie Herenton surprised those attending his traditional New Year's Day prayer breakfast by proposing that Memphians consider tearing down Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and replacing it with a new stadium at the Fairgrounds.

On Tuesday, the Memphis City Council received a consultant's report on the feasibility of a new stadium and promptly voted to delay further discussion of it until December. Here is a "progress report" on the stadium proposal for the last nine months.

January 1, 2007

Theme: "On the Wall," the title of the mayor's breakfast speech.

Venue: Press conference after breakfast at Memphis Cook Convention Center.

Handout. Six stapled-together pages of color pictures of pro and college football stadiums in Charlotte, Detroit, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Louisville.

Cost estimate: $63 million (Louisville) to $300 million (Detroit)

Research/Professionalism: College student hoping for a C grade.

Supporting cast: UM's R. C. Johnson and CVB's Kevin Kane.

Big idea: Replace rather than refurbish the Liberty Bowl.

Reaction: Say what?

February 20, 2007

Theme: "Project Nexus: Fairgrounds master plan and new stadium proposal."

Venue: Lobby of City Hall

Handout: Four-page press release and 40-page plastic-covered report.

Cost estimate: $150 million to $185 million.

Research/Professionalism: Five-figure consulting job, Power-Point style.

Supporting cast: Various directors and mayoral staff.

Big idea: Economic development with fiscal restraint. No property taxes.

Reaction: Harold Byrd and other UM boosters push for on-campus stadium.

September 18, 2007

Theme: "Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Development Options."

Venue: City Council committee room.

Handout: 136-page report.

Cost estimate: $21 million for renovation to $217 million for new stadium.

Research/Professionalism: Six-figure consulting job, with footnotes.

Supporting cast: Chief Financial Officer Robert Lipscomb.

Big idea: Report covers all the bases, but was "edited" before release.

Reaction: Put it away until December, two months after election.

Meanwhile, the University of Memphis Tigers defeated Jacksonville State Saturday before an estimated 28,000 fans at the 62,000-seat stadium.


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