Field of Schemes
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June 17, 2004

Memphis report: Liberty Bowl not worth fixing

A report commissioned by the city of Memphis says that the 39-year-old Liberty Bowl, home to the University of Memphis' college football team and the annual Liberty Bowl game, is "fast approaching obsolescence and may not have enough redeeming qualities to justify the amount of renovation and upgrading that would be required." Renovating the stadium would cost between $115.6 million and $146.8 million, while a new stadium would be between $175 million and $195 million. The report's authors: stadium architects HOK, who might reasonably be expected to have some self-interest in promoting a new stadium that they themselves could build.

Nonetheless, some city council members appear to have drunk the Kool-Aid, with parks committee chair Joe Brown enthusing: "We've got to stop thinking like some little backwater town. Pro sports players spend money. People come to see pro sports, and they spend money." Memphis already owes $250 million on the new FedEx Forum, built for the Grizzlies, plus another $30 million in remaining debt on the ten-year-old Pyramid, which the Forum is set to replace this fall.

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