Coliseum Coalition hopes to keep Memphis history alive

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The aim of the Coliseum Coalition is to keep Memphis history alive.

The group held a rally Thursday to tell the public about their goal to make sure the Mid-South Coliseum doesn't go anywhere as the city plans to build a $230 million sports complex.

People used to walk through the doors of the coliseum to see shows by the Beatles and Elvis, or to check out pro wrestling and watch college basketball. But it's been years since anyone stepped foot through those doors, and supporters say there's too much history to let it go.

Before members of the podium began speaking, Amy Lavere, a Midtown resident, sang a song about the Coliseum.

"Just look...look through the window and ask what they came the coliseum," Lavere sang.

She was keeping the music alive, and that's the Coliseum Coalition's vision for the coliseum.

"My big thing is I want the city to just let us sit down and brainstorm solutions," one man who came to show his support said.

Members of the coalition and community say they're open to what goes in the historical building, as long as it doesn't go. Some ideas they shared Thursday included a wrestling hall of fame or renovating the place to once again host concerts and sporting events.

Mayor A C Wharton says he has big plans for a sports complex in the area.

"That creates 1,700 jobs at the fairgrounds while also improving the lives of young people," he said in his recent state of the city address.

Proponents of keeping the building alive say it would be cheaper to renovate the place than to tear it down and believe the Mid-South Coliseum is part of Memphis' historic brand: music.

"People want something real when they come here, new stuff is fine as long as it can be purposes with the old stuff, old is cool," Mike McCarthy of the coalition said.

Ultimately, they say it's a choice that comes down to the people.

"All of Memphis should have a say in this, this should be a public vote on the next election ballot," Jordan Danielz said.

The coalition said they will continue speaking out and plan to have future rallies to gain more support.