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Pyramid Adventure indoor themepark moving forward!

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This has come up a few times before but it seems to be alot bigger and more planned-out this go around.




Ericson Group is proposing a $250 million entertainment, hotel and restaurant development for the Pyramid and its surrounding area as well as future developments on Mud Island.


Greg Ericson, president and CEO of Memphis-based Ericson Group, presented his plan to the Shelby County Commission's Economic Development and Tourism Committee Wednesday afternoon.


The project, called Pyramid Adventure, is a dramatic $100 million-plus expansion of the plan Ericson presented three years ago to turn the Pyramid into an indoor theme park.


The theme park aspect of the development remains but is now joined by a 200,000-square-foot open air mall called Pyramid Park Plaza and a 350-room upscale Pyramid-shaped hotel between the Pyramid and the Cook Convention Center.


Both developments would be located north of Interstate 40.


Ericson said other plans would call for a $50 million investment on the Mud Island development, called Harbor Island. That project would include a 15,000-seat amphitheater, a second 300-400 room hotel, a floating maritime museum and a new entrance at the south end of the island.


Future developments would include an aquarium or water park at the site of the current Lone Star operation and an indoor/outdoor promenade of shops along Wolf River.


Financing would be provided by a group of private equity investors that include Prosperity International and Essex Investment Partners and Ericson Group, Ericson said. No local tax dollars would be requested beyond what has been promised to Bass Pro, he said.


According to Ericson's proposal, the entire project would create between 3,000 and 3,500 jobs and draw 1.5 million-2 million visitors annually.


Commissioners were almost giddy over the proposal. Commissioner James Harvey said, "I think this is an excellent project You look at this and hope this other project hadn't happened."


Harvey was referring to the $45 million proposal by Bass Pro Shops to convert the Pyramid into a retail store.


Both the city and the county own the Pyramid and the city has taken the lead in negotiations with Bass Pro since 2005. A non-binding letter of intent is set to expire Jan. 31.


Commissioners spent much of the Wednesday meeting discussing the letter, the seriousness of a Bass Pro offer and what the body would do should Bass Pro not present a plan before Jan. 31.


Several commissioners, including Steve Mulroy, Mike Ritz and Wyatt Bunker, expressed doubts in a suitable plan being presented.


"The ethical obligation we have is to the taxpayers of Shelby County, not Bass Pro," Mulroy said. "This is a better use for the Pyramid than a glorified bait shop."


I think we can all agree this would be better than an oversized Bass Pro Shop. (even though they are cool).


I'll keep everybody updated.





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It says...'now vacant Pyramid Dome'......what happened and what used to be there?


Looks really cool, but the only down side of coursed is that its indoor, which means not a whole lot of expansion room. idk though, look what MoA is doing


Should be pretty cool though and it will most likely be good for Memphis. From the pictures it looks like its connected to public transportation so that should be a big plus.


Hope it gets built!

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It says...'now vacant Pyramid Dome'......what happened and what used to be there?


Looks really cool, but the only down side of coursed is that its indoor, which means not a whole lot of expansion room. idk though, look what MoA is doing


Should be pretty cool though and it will most likely be good for Memphis. From the pictures it looks like its connected to public transportation so that should be a big plus.


Hope it gets built!


It held two basketball teams, hosted several exhibits and countless concerts. It was replaced by the Fedex Forum in 2005.

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I think it'd be great if they could somehoe incorporate the carousel into the park. With its age/history, I believe it would be better to be kept indoors.


And now with Mud Island in the equation, maybe the Zippin Pippin could be relocated there.


It's time for Memphis to have a park again.

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Hmm, interesting. A Looping Waterslide, and a Boulder Dash/Expedition Everest style wooden coaster are the highlights of what I saw. Although those drawings should have been animations as I can't tell if that red thing in the first pic is a waterslide or a roller coaster.

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^ No, I don't think that's a looping waterslide...


New article:


Big Ideas

Commissioners show impatience with Bass Pro as Ericson pushes $250M vision for Pyramid


NEW PLAN: An artist's rendering of the Ericson Group's Pyramid Adventure proposal includes a theme park and riverside attractions. -- RENDERING COURTESY OF ERICSON GROUP

The Shelby County Board of Commissioners will vote Monday on a resolution that suggests county leaders not extend a letter of intent for Bass Pro Shops to develop attractions in The Pyramid.



The resolution by Commissioner Steve Mulroy cleared a committee this week on a 6-2 vote as developer Greg Ericson outlined an expanded $250 million plan to build a "first class Disney-esque indoor theme park" in The Pyramid.



The "Pyramid Adventure" plan includes attractions around The Pyramid as well as a $50 million transformation of Mud Island into Harbor Island. (Click here to view a larger version of the rendering of the plan.)



"It is a quarter of a billion dollars of private investment - half of which is equity. It's not a loan. It's actually an investment in the city and county," Ericson told reporters at the end of the hour-long session.


Big money


The presentation followed meetings Ericson and his financial backers had this week with city leaders who have said they remain confident Bass Pro Shops will have a deal to develop The Pyramid by the end of January. That's when the joint city-county letter of intent with Bass Pro runs out. Bass Pro has been granted several extensions since the original letter of intent was signed in 2005. The agreement is non-binding and non-exclusive.



The plan by Ericson Group involves the city and county selling The Pyramid and the Mud Island park as well as surrounding riverfront land to the enterprise. Ericson also would pay off the remaining debt on The Pyramid that city and county governments have been paying on since the facility opened in late 1991.



His investors are Prosperity International of Orlando, Fla., and Essex Investment Partners of New York City.



"Do you currently have that funding in place?" was the first question of the session from Commissioner James Harvey.



"We have the funding secured," Ericson replied as Barry Funt of Essex talked tentative terms.




ADVENTURE ON THE RIVER: Ericson Group President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Ericson unveiled Wednesday a $250 million plan to redevelop The Pyramid as a theme park with surrounding amenities. -- PHOTO BY BILL DRIES"We have made a commitment to (Ericson) to create a joint venture to ultimately help finance this vision that he has before you," Funt said. "With respect to the $250 million - that's kind of what we're projecting it would cost. Our plan is half of that would be a straight equity investment in the project. And half will come in the form of debt solely to be repaid by the project itself."




Devil in the details



Ericson and Funt later indicated the project also would rely on a payment-in-lieu-of- taxes (PILOT) freeze and tax incentives local leaders are prepared to offer Bass Pro.



"All we would require from the city and county is the same funding that has been promised to Bass Pro for their project, which is a PILOT and a few other tax incentives that are mostly federally funded," Ericson said.



Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. agreed to at least talk with commissioners before making any decision on an extension of the Bass Pro letter of intent. The commission resolution only suggests Wharton not extend it because there is some legal question about whether the commission can order Wharton not to.



"We're all trying to get ourselves out of a horrible situation down there," Wharton said of The Pyramid. A Bob Seger concert in February was the last event held there. The number of events declined starting around 2003 with a bad national concert market. The decline accelerated when FedExForum opened in 2004.



"All of these things sound really great on the front end," Wharton said of the Bass Pro proposal and the Ericson plan. "The devil is in the details. I would suggest that we save our fighting energies until we get down to the real details. I've never seen an unconditional commitment letter."




'Back door knowledge'



But several commissioners indicated they are growing weary of private talks with Bass Pro conducted for the most part by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's administration.



"I think the good faith of the two elected bodies is probably at its very, very end. While you may have seen a lot ... the fact is we all have to live in the community at large with taxpayers and the voters and, frankly, we don't have anything to show them," said Commissioner Mike Ritz, who claimed some "back door knowledge" of what Bass Pro is seeking in the private talks.



"Their demands on the city and the county are humongous. ... To continue to let our taxpayers and voters think that there is something of real value here when in fact Bass Pro's demands are probably going to choke us - I could not vote for it. ... I think you've got to let another process work."




Doesn't want second fiddle



Wharton said the city - namely Housing and Community Development Director Robert Lipscomb - has taken the lead in the talks because, "They have the dominant interest in terms of real estate."



Commissioner Deidre Malone, who along with Henri Brooks voted against the resolution, argued any examination of the Ericson Group's proposal before the end of January is "premature."



"This whole conversation makes me a little uncomfortable. ... Even though it may be the third letter of agreement that we're working on, we're still working on a letter of agreement," Malone said.



By contrast, Mulroy was ready to indicate a preference.



"For my money, at the end of the day when the dust settles we have a public use for The Pyramid that is better for the public than a glorified bait shop," he said.



Ericson told reporters he wants his project to be taken as seriously as the Bass Pro venture and not as an alternative to it.



When asked if the two investment firms would still be interested at the end of January when the Bass Pro letter of intent runs out, Funt said, "We were promised by Mr. Lipscomb that he would consider Greg's project on its own and not as a backup plan to Bass Pro. ... We're just hopeful that the project will be taken seriously on its merits."

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  • 4 weeks later...

The only roadblock here is that Bass Pro has until January 31st to create a third binding letter that will make things more official.


Don't get me wrong, Bass Pro is an awesome place! But we already have a (new) great one here. Second off, would you honestly go visit some place because of a Bass Pro? They've also left other places hanging (Buffalo, NY I think) for years without doing anything.


This park is a much better deal.

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Yea, I also agree that the park would be a better ideal... btw we need more relevant amusement parks in Tennessee. The only one I think we have that's worth anything is Dollywood and Dolly's Splash Country... So this and Ole South Experience/Ole South USA would be two really good ideas.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A small update, some of our city council went up north to view Bass Pro's (the main opponent in this situation) mega store.


The reaction was scary. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge fan of Bass Pro, I go to the store we already have often.


But it shouldn't be a main tourist draw.


I'm watching this news segment and they're talking about the "4-story waterfall", "laser gun", and "Nascar simulator", (among other semi-cool stuff) and I'm thinking, is a large demographic of people going to head to Memphis to play laser tag and watch a waterfall? We already have a Bass Pro, we don't need an upgrade. Especially not in one of our iconic buildings.


However the themepark proposal is still on the table so all is good. Bass Pro has less than 24 hours to submit their letter of intent or they're dropped.

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I'm watching this news segment and they're talking about the "4-story waterfall", "laser gun", and "Nascar simulator", (among other semi-cool stuff) and I'm thinking, is a large demographic of people going to head to Memphis to play laser tag and watch a waterfall? We already have a Bass Pro, we don't need an upgrade. Especially not in one of our iconic buildings.


I agree. Why would I go to Memphis to look at a waterfall and play laser tag when I can go up to St. Louis and do the same thing? But I would drive four hours to go to a theme park in Memphis. I just hope the city council gives this some consideration.

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Several years ago, Bass Pro proposed a "theme park" for the Seiverville area (close to Pigeon Forge). Of course, it never panned out and all they built was a store.


Hopefully, the Pyramid Harbor project will be built.


Well Bass Pro did open a hotel in that area next to the store. Well see in the morning what is going to happen.

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The south just needs some better and newer parks. I'm not knocking Beech Bend, SFKK, Dollywood or SFoG by any means, it's just there needes to be a bit more. If this Egyptland, Ole South, and Splash Valley all surface and stay afloat, that'll be a great diversity and a boon for the local economies. Keeping fingers crossed.


EDIT: Couldn't forget Lake Winnie, Atlanta's White Water, or Alabama Adventure here.

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^I couldn't agree with you more. It would be nice to see more diversity in park options. I just wish that someone would open a park here in Eastern North Carolina. I was happy to hear the Zippin Pippin was going to be moved to the Carolina Crossroads, but since that is now a dead idea, I am still being hopeful of something opening around here, even if it was the Raliegh-Durham area.

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^ Hey thanks!


One trend I'm glad to see and hopefully Memphis follows suit, is an indoor waterpark of some kind. That may even be part of Pyramid and I missed it. Either way, could be a good addtition. You know, a new indoor water park might even benefit Nashville, although they do have Nashville Shores, not far from ShOpryland.


Curiously, there's even plans for a Great Wolf sort of thing for Alabama Adventure of all places. So if Tuscaloosa is getting one of these places, again, Memphis might want to look into same if they haven't already.


Bottom line out of all this conjecture, it'll be really nice to have several new options in addition to old favs so close by and (getting back on topic) Pyramid and whatever else they throw in will be a welcome addition. Glad to see it.

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