Otis Sanford: The future of the Mid-South Coliseum

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It should be obvious by now that chances are slim to non-existent that the Mid-South Coliseum will ever again be open for business.

Instead of putting a wrecking ball to the iconic arena, the city is planning to just let it sit there gathering dust inside and out while a $160 million redevelopment initiative - focused on youth sports - springs up on the surrounding Fairgrounds property.

Details of the plan will be unveiled next week, but what we know now is that the city wants to make the area an attractive venue for nearby neighborhoods including Orange Mound, Beltline and Cooper-Young. The emphasis will be on competitive amateur sports that could generate revenue.

The 54-year-old Coliseum does not factor into those plans, but instead of demolishing it and incurring the wrath of coliseum supporters,  the city will spend about $500,000 to repair part of the roof and seal up the doors.

The non-technical term would be mothballing the arena.

In many ways, the decision makes sense.

Officials say it would cost up to $40 million to renovate the Coliseum and make it suitable for youth sporting events. Tearing it down could cost $8 to 10 million. So the best approach is to let it sit dormant while private entities figure out if they have the interest and the money to make the roundhouse live again.