City leaders, public question Beale Street cover charge

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A $10 cover charge on Beale Street went into effect at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

Since that time, city leaders and the public have been sharing their reactions to the new fee that will be in effect at certain times.

The Beale Street Merchants Association and Downtown Memphis Commission instituted the fee to make Beale Street safer, especially in light of a recent cellphone video of a man passed out in his own blood.

The money is slated to go towards funding security and will only be in effect at times of overcrowding.

Paul Morris with the Downtown Memphis Commission said adding the cover charge is legal and has been part of a citywide discussion for about two years.

He said the groups have to run Beale Street like a business, and the city council doesn’t necessarily need to be making the decisions about cover charges.

City council member Kemp Conrad seemed to agree that the Downtown Memphis Commission is the authority on Beale Street, though he said he looks forward to learning more about the decision.

Council member Harold Collins thinks differently.

“No, there is no question. The city of Memphis controls Beale Street,” Collins said.

Collins said he anticipates the council will bring up the issue at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Beale Street Merchants Association said it wanted to wait to release a formal statement until after it has had the chance to speak with council members.

It said this type of fee is not new to Memphis.

The Merchants Association said there is a similar cover charge for a public street during Memphis in May.

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