City council approves TDZ for $100 million Fairgrounds project

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new high-end sports facility could soon be coming to Memphis as part of a $100 million dollar project.

City officials have been looking to bring a new attraction for kids to the Midtown area since Libertyland, the Coliseum and the Mid-South Fair have all closed or moved.

More than 150 acres of unused land at the Fairgrounds could soon be buzzing in the heart of Memphis.

"We have the Liberty Bowl there, but we have so much vacant land. Libertyland used to be the attraction there. But by not having that anymore, we really don't have anything at that facility that would attract youth," Councilmember Martavius Jones said.

A multiuse sports facility is part of the city's new plan for the Fairgrounds.

The renderings show the state-of-the-art sports facility city officials are hoping to bring to the fairgrounds area where Libertyland used to be.

There would also be commercial mixed-use activity along Central Avenue where the track currently is. The track would then move next to the sports facility.

It's a $100 million project aimed at giving youth and tourists somewhere to go.

"I don't think it's going to be the same thing Libertyland was. But when you're talking about youth athletics taking place all over the county, that's the objective. We're trying to attract some of the dollars here," Jones said.

On Tuesday, council members voted to approve a TDZ — Tourism Development Zone — to fund the project. That means a portion of sales taxes collected in the area would go toward funding it.

A recent change in the state law means the city needs to approve and submit an application for the project to the state by the end of the year.

"We feel it incumbent upon us to move quickly to try to activate this opportunity for the city and region," housing and development director Paul Young said.

The plan doesn't include the Coliseum, but it leaves it open for future use.=

The city has limitations on how it can develop it due to a non-compete with the FedEx Forum. So they're hoping the new sports facility project would make private businesses want to invest in the Coliseum.

Young said the city will submit their application for the TDZ to the State Building Commission next month.

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