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|NEW GRACELAND VENUE TO INCLUDE TOURING PRODUCTIONS AND...
September 06, 2017 - Biz Journal / Elvis Express Radio
|Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) Inc.'s plans to build an arena are part of a larger business strategy to take legendary recording artists back out on the road.
"The event center is not looking to usurp any other venues in the city or county," said Joel Weinshanker, manager of Graceland Holdings LLC, during a discussion with Shelby
County Commissioners about an amendment to the Graceland TIF Wednesday, Sept. 6.
Graceland Holdings is the majority owner of Graceland. The group is planning to build the new venue to house concerts, plays and other productions it will produce and develop
“Not only are we Graceland, we’re also a producer of shows," Weinshanker said. "We produced over 100 shows around the world last year and a lot of the intent is to develop shows
in Memphis, to build those shows out in Memphis, and then have those go out across the country and across the world."
For instance, EPE recently put on a concert at the FedExForum in August for the 40th anniversary of Elvis' death. That show is similar to what Weinshanker said the new venue
would host. The majority of musicians used in the orchestra were Memphis musicians, and they had the opportunity to travel the U.S. with the touring production of the concert.
"We're not looking for the kids' shows. We're not going to have 'Sesame Street' or 'Disney on Ice' or anything like that," Weinshanker said.
Last year, Graceland Holdings LLC entered into an “exhibition operating agreement” to develop Paisley Park, Prince's Minnesota home, into a museum similar to Graceland. To read
more about that, check out MBJ's cover story, " Elvis Presley Enterprises works with Prince's estate."
EPE is now hoping to take on several other famous estates in the near future, Weinshanker said.
But, they are also planning concerts around Elvis Presley. Sony Records is currently producing a new gospel record, which will feature the best gospel singers who performed with
Elvis. EPE is planning to take that record on the road by recruiting the best gospel singers in Memphis and cultivating a touring production at the proposed arena.
"We're going to develop that gospel tour that will go all over America there," Weinshanker said.
For tourists visiting Memphis, the Graceland experience generally starts around 8 a.m., with fans lining up outside the gates. Tours typically wind down by 4 p.m., and EPE wants to
give the area — and its visitors — some night life.
"What we're looking to do is have evening events because, quite frankly, we don't have the parking to have a packed Graceland and a packed arena at the same time,"
If the venue takes events away from anyone, it will be Mississippi, Weinshanker said.
EPE originally booked its recent 40th anniversary concert event at Southaven's Landers Center but then moved it to the FedExForum.
"We decided to bite the bullet and lose a substantial amount of money — versus what we could have [done] at the Landers Center — because we are Memphis proud,"
Weinshaker said Memphis currently loses out on some concerts to Nashville and other surrounding cities because acts cannot fill enough seats to make a profit at FedExForum but
are too large for the 2,500-seat Orpheum Theatre.
"If you can fill 7,000 or more seats, you need to be at the Forum," Weinshanker said. "I've spoken with AEG, one of the largest concert promoters in the world, who says 6,200 seats
is that sweet spot."
EPE representatives are expected to meet with Grizzlies executives to try to come to an agreement on the Hoops LP noncompete clause before the Economic Development Growth
Engine for Memphis & Shelby County meets on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to vote on the Graceland TIF proposal.
EPE is asking for a 50 to 60 percent increase in new property taxes that are collected annually and allocated for the Graceland TIF to fund the new arena.
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