Entry fee for Beale Street will depend on crowds

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While walking in Memphis, patrons will have to pull out their wallets when they arrive at Beale Street at certain times.

People will not only have to cross barriers at Second and Third, but also cross monetary barriers depending on crowds.

“It’ll definitely keep me from coming,” Jeremy Malone said.

People who live in Memphis told WREG they were not happy about it.

“I feel like they’re going to lose a lot of people,” Malone said.

Visitors told WREG they were on the fence about the cover charge.

“It’s like okay, we paid, we saw it, do we want to go back? And we’ve been here 3 or 4 times.  So I don’t know,” Julia Stumpf said.

Saturday, there was a $10.00 charge and businesses agreed to shut down at 3:00 a.m.

Paul Morris, President of the Downtown Memphis Commission and Interim Manager of Beale Street, said a fee will only be charged when there is a chance of the street overcrowding or becoming unsafe.

Morris said overcrowding typically happens around midnight Saturday during the summer.

Crimes and incidents, like the video that went viral last weekend, is what sparked the change.

A man was found passed out in a pool of blood on Beale Street while onlookers stood around taking pictures.

“One of the lessons we took from that and the whole community hopefully took from that is that people should not sit around looking at a problem and not act to solve it,” Morris.

“The crowd gets too big,” Morris said.  “It becomes a public safety issue because there’s just too many people and not enough room to safely move around.”

Charging on the weekend and closing down a little early is the solution the commission came up with.

Morris said police are on board and so are the businesses.

“I’d rather have people complaining about the fee than complaining about some crime that happened down here,” Morris explained.

The charge is allowed because Beale Street is designated as an historic district.

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