Yes, Graceland actually threatened to move to Japan to get $194m in subsidies from Memphis

The Wall Street Journal ran an article on Sunday that began like this:

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—The Memphis City Council will vote this month to complete new tax breaks for Graceland to fund a $100 million expansion, a peace offering in a nearly two-year war that included threats of Elvis’s estate leaving his adopted hometown.

I don’t know precisely what the rest of the article says, because the Journal will only let me read it if I give them either $187.20 for a year’s subscription or $1 plus my credit card number so they can charge me $187.20 when I forget to cancel, neither of which is appealing. Fortunately, though, the uncopyrightable nature of information has led to lots of other news sites reporting on the Journal’s reporting, which means we can learn things like this for significantly less than $187.20:

“We had an offer ten days ago to move Graceland to Japan,” Joel Weinshanker, managing director of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said. “We had two offers to move to the Middle East and one [to move] to China. They offered us more profit than we could ever make in Memphis.”

It should go without saying — oh, I so hope it should go without saying — that Graceland is a place (“the place Elvis called home,” as Graceland’s own website touts it, complete with “the gardens where he found peace”), and you can’t move a place, though obviously you can move all the stuff that’s in the place. Whether people will still go visit the stuff if the stuff isn’t in the place is an open question, but apparently not one that Memphis wanted to consider too hard, because city officials approved giving Graceland several briefcases full of money in order not to go through with moving overseas.

How much money precisely? Slate reports that Graceland would get “a bigger cut of city and county property and sales tax revenues for a new expansion project,” and that the expansion project would cost $100 million, but that the new property tax kickbacks would “add up to between $194 million and $269 million in reduced taxes for Graceland.” And that the local economic development corporation president “stressed the expansion would not have happened without those incentives, and would be a net gain for the city and county on tax revenue alone.”

So to recap: A tourist attraction based around Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis threatened to move to a place that Elvis never lived, until the local government agreed to give them at least $194 million to pay for a $100 million expansion, which the local economic chief claims will leave the city and county turning a profit. 2019, people.


23 comments on “Yes, Graceland actually threatened to move to Japan to get $194m in subsidies from Memphis

  1. Hell, the Memphis City Council should call the bluff and if they move so be it.

    It’s bad enough with all these sports owners wanting a new stadium or arena or some improvement, but this is the topper.

    Screw Graceland if you can’t make it too bad. Go find some othe suckerzzzzz.


  2. Then again the London Bridge is located at Lake Havasu so maybe Graceland in Asia isn’t that far fetched.

    • And Jim Thorpe never set foot in Jim Thorpe PA. They just bought his remains and set up a memorial to him and changed the town name.

    • Islay, Montana didn’t even go that far… they just changed the town name to “Joe”.

      “We’re not saying he was born/grew up/lived/visited/once used a public restroom here, and we’re not saying he didn’t”

  3. I hear they need to new Graceland with modern amenities in order to compete.

    • I pay for several sites that I read regularly. The Journal doesn’t even offer 2-3 free views a month, which is probably all I would need, and at their price points it wouldn’t be worth it for me to subscribe.

  4. In a world where sporting venues have statues outside them in tribute to players who never set foot inside the building, um…

    Personally, I think Graceland in Hammamatsu would work fantastically well. That’s where most of the Elvis impersonators are anyway, so why not?

    Not in favour of this idiocy… but how is it any worse than most of the sports related shakedowns we see every day?

    Can’t wait until the nuclear power industry finally gets off it’s backside and starts threatening relocation like this… hey, it works for everybody else right?

    • Hi! Thanks for all the good ideas. We dismantled Colonel Parker’s home and the original Elvis fan club building. All the boards are numbered ready to go, And we made an award winning short film of the dismantling process. Everything from doors , windows, tiles, bricks, etc. a hundred tons are at Johnny Cash’s farm in Bon Aqua, TN. The original fan club building pre-dates Graceland and was in Madison, Tennessee.


  5. Even if they moved a lot of stuff to Japan they’d still own the house and property so they’d still probably run the place as a tourist attraction, right? (That or sell it to somebody who’d instantly open it again as a tourist attraction.) There’s so much Elvis memorabilia out there you could probably restock where the average visitor wouldn’t even know the difference. And keeping to that idea, if Japan REALLY was dying for them to move there why haven’t they already done it with the tons of extra stuff they must have that isn’t on regular display?

  6. Well, people pay big bucks to see Elvis impersonators. Why not imitation Graceland?

  7. Just glad I saw it in Memphis when I did
    Not really much point in seeing it in Japan, a place Elvis never even visited
    Seems a bit daft to me
    Yes open up a museum with all the snide/copy stuff in there, just remember it’s just a museum, it’s full of not genuine stuff

  8. Lisa Marie owns Graceland and i can definatly tell you she wont agree to this crazy idea of Graceland her child hood home being moved off its regional land Elvis loved so much.So another words it will never happend folks….

  9. I think some people are missing the part of the story where Graceland is not moving to Japan because 1) it’s ridiculous and 2) they just got $194 million in public money not to do so.

    • Sure, most of us actually… I think the general idea (?) is not that we actually think they should or would go, just that the public agencies/governments who were threatened with this should have just said “sure, have fun. Bye.”

      Just like when the Yankees threatened to move to NJ because they were falling behind the Pirates and Rays…. errr, somehow. Over to you, Levine…