Graceland challenges FedExForum agreement as it seeks to build new arena

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Elvis Presley Enterprises says it will fight the city’s non-compete agreement with the Grizzlies over FedExForum use as the company tries to build a new event venue at Graceland.

EPE has sought approval to build a 6,200-seat arena at Graceland. The plan was modified to a multipurpose facility. Total investment in the project would be $40 million – $50 million, the company says.

But the company said objections by the Grizzlies stalled the project when it was presented to Memphis City Council. The operating agreement that governs the FedExForum restricts competition from other venues within Shelby County.

Critics contend the agreement has held back redevelopment of the Mid-South Coliseum and pushed concerts to new venues in DeSoto County.

Wednesday, EPE said it had filed a declaratory judgment action with Shelby County Chancery Court asking the court to declare that the planned  Graceland arena would not violate the city’s operating agreement for the FedExForum.

City of Memphis Chief Legal Officer Bruce McMullen said in a statement that the issue revolves around the use of public funds to build a concert venue that would compete with FedExForum. EPE has asked the city to use a larger percentage of tax revenue in a special TIF district around Graceland to fund the arena.

However, McMullen said Elvis Presley Enterprises is free to build an arena without the use of public funds.

“That option is available to them,” McMullen said. “The administration is shocked that EPE would use a misleading press statement and a lawsuit to try (to) advance its position in the negotiations.”