Hundreds of Citizen Comments on Bass Pro Signs

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(Memphis) Hundreds of comments flooded the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Design Review Board meeting Wednesday, as citizens debated the merits of large, glowing Bass Pro signs to be installed on all sides of the Pyramid.

Bass Pro has submitted plans for approval, that include four, internally lit LED signs that are more than 4,000 square feet, comparable to the size of a basketball court.

Their designs also include large ground signs, and pylons much taller than the Ramesses statue that used to be there.

While adjustments in construction material and changes to some exterior structures were approved, the board decided to wait until its March 18th meeting to vote on the signage package.

Paul Morris, the president of the Downtown Memphis Commission, said it would be better to digest all of the comments before making a decision.

Morris told the crowded conference room of people that he had received hundreds of comments via email, Facebook and Twitter.

“The uniform comment from everybody with very, very few exceptions was, we're thrilled to have Bass Pro coming to downtown,” Morris said.

Even those critical of the big signs said they were excited to have Bass Pro here.

Several women in attendance Wednesday said they are loyal customers.

“I love their products. I'm so thrilled that they're coming. And I'm thrilled they're going to be in the Pyramid. Please don't put that ugly sign,” said Jeri Ledbetter, a Mud Island resident. “I don't know if they're afraid we're not going to be able to find them. But we're all going to be able to find them. We all know where they are.”

Ledbetter said there could be more creative ways to market Bass Pro, like projecting the image of a mountain climber going up the Pyramid.

One commissioner suggested projecting the Bass Pro logo through the glass of the observation tower.

The president of the Harbor Town Community Association tried to convince Bass Pro to remove the one proposed sign on the north side, where there’s far less traffic from any potential customers along Front Street.

One of the commissioners shared the sentiment, particularly because he lives on Mud Island and can see the pyramid from his bedroom window.

The signs would glow 24 hours a day.

A pilot, who said he has lived in Memphis all his life, said he can see the pyramid flying in 200 miles away.

“And my concern is that by emblazoning a landmark with a corporate logo, we are reducing it from landmark status to billboard status,” he said.

Meanwhile, representatives from Bass Pro took notes and said they are looking forward to a good relationship with the Memphis community.

One of the company’s legal representatives, John Stemmler, said, “Bass Pro shops is excited to be in Memphis. It's excited to be a contributing corporate citizen to the Memphis community. They want to make the pyramid as successful tourist destination, an exciting retail opportunity, for the Memphis community as possible. They believe this design and signage plan maximizes those opportunities.”