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April 05,  2018   -   Memphis Business Journal    /   Elvis Express Radio
Today, the EDGE board approved two Elvis Presley Enterprises projects — with conditions.

The Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County voted on two applications submitted by Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE) at a specially called EDGE
board meeting Thursday, April 5.

First up was a bond application that requested financing not to exceed $20 million. That financing was to build an 80,000-square-foot exhibition and convention space with
supporting food and beverage service, and it was approved with relative ease — compared to the second item on the agenda.

Request No. 2 — to amend the Graceland Economic Impact Plan to accommodate a 6,200-seat performance venue on the Graceland campus — left the board split.

“We are not bringing to you a project that everyone is really comfortable with,” said Reid Dulberger, president and CEO of EDGE. “It is a little bit of a different situation than we
normally face."

That different situation is due to concerns over whether the venue will violate the FedExForum arena use agreement between Memphis Basketball (Grizzlies) and the City of
Memphis and Shelby County.

Ultimately, the proposal presented by the EDGE staff was approved in a 5-3 vote by the board.

The staff proposal had five key elements:
•        A 6,200-seat arena;

•        an increase in the Graceland Tax increment financing from 50 percent to 65 percent;

•        $1 tax per every arena ticket in excess of $15 that would create a loan fund for projects in the Whitehaven neighborhood;

•        a court would rule that the arena would not violate the FedExForum arena use and operating agreement;

•        and the arena would not be built using the TIF revenue.

"We welcome what the city doesn’t … that a judge needs to make a decision," said Joel Weinshanker, EPE principal and manager of Graceland Holdings LLC, after the meeting. "We
look at this as a victory and we look forward to a judge — and, again, what a judge is going to do — [alleviating] any liability for Memphis."

The City of Memphis was also represented at the EDGE meeting, with city COO Doug McGowen and chief legal officer Bruce McMullen in attendance.

"I had hoped that the Grizzlies and Elvis Presley Enterprises would work out an agreement outside of the court so the approval could go lightning speed," McMullen told MBJ, "and
they could get the facility built. The decision by the board … it puts the whole situation in jeopardy for a period of time. That is not the best outcome when you talk about economic

The project now must get approval from the Memphis City Council, Shelby County Commission and at the state level. But, if the courts rule that the arena would violate the
FedExForum agreement, then the deal would be dead.

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