Elvis Express Radio News
MEMPHIS NEEDS GRACELAND AND GRIZZLIES TO WORK TOGETHER
November 25,  2017   -   Commercial Appeal  /  Elvis Express Radio
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It’s hard to imagine how anyone might benefit from the lawsuit filed by Elvis Presley Enterprises against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Its ostensible purpose was to challenge the clause in the Memphis Grizzlies’ FedExForum lease that protects the arena, a multipurpose sports and concert venue, from competition
by other publicly financed facilities.

Maybe EPE was maneuvering for a larger public subsidy for the arena it plans to build near Graceland, suggesting that it might drop its lawsuit if the public till can be tapped a little
more?

If it had a legal leg to stand on, that might be an understandable strategy. But the noncompete clause is as solid as an uncontested dunk.

It essentially gives the Grizzlies organization the right to block the operation of any venue either financed with public funds or capable of seating more than 5,000 people or both.

That might seem unfair, but in exchange the Grizzlies assumed the responsibility for any operating losses at the publicly owned arena, the city’s premier venue for revenue-
generating events.

The agreement was a good deal for the city and its beloved Grizzlies.

But Graceland deserves some love, too. It’s important to Memphis and especially the Whitehaven neighborhood for Elvis Presley Enterprises to succeed, which means exploiting to
its full potential the late singer’s mystique, which has been drawing a huge international tourist crowd to the neighborhood since his death in 1977.


What would be best for Memphis is for these two important community titans to work together and find a way to protect the FedExForum’s bottom line and, at the same time, allow
one of Tennessee’s biggest tourist draws to continue to thrive.

It’s important to remember that EPE’s original plan called for a 6,200-seat concert hall.

Citing objections from the Grizzlies to a plan that obviously gave the franchise the right to say no, EPE switched to a multipurpose facility with no permanent seating, limited to 3,500
spectators for events that would be produced by Graceland and affiliates.

The new scheme was presented to the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County by attorney James McLaren, who contended that the alteration would
reflect EPE’s desire to “be good corporate citizens of Memphis.”

EPE also requested an increase from 50 to 65 percent of the increase in city-county property taxes that would be collected in the tax increment financing district that helped fund its
expansion. 

Over the past three years, Graceland has used public incentives to build a luxury hotel and a new visitor attraction, Elvis Presley's Memphis.

The alternative plan, however, continued to draw objections from the Grizzlies organization.

EPE took its case to Chancery Court, seeking a declaration that its original proposal for a 6,200-seat entertainment and event venue on the Graceland campus would not violate
the noncompete clause.

Legally, the Grizzlies seem to have the upper hand in the dispute. But few Memphians would disagree with the notion that Graceland’s continued success with the Presley brand
would spell a brighter future for this city and its economic well-being.

These economic and cultural powerhouses are being tested. Can they work together to help Memphis reach its potential as a place where people want to live and work and play?
If they have the best interests of Memphis in mind, they will give cooperation a try.


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Kids from the Greenbay Girls Choir sing a medley of Elvis songs during a
trip to Graceland on Friday, June 23, 2017.