Memphis Tourism (formerly the Convention and Visitors Bureau) will give the group $300,000 per year from hotel/motel tax revenues to host its convocation in Memphis.
The Church of God in Christ, which is headquartered in Memphis, said Monday night it will bring its annual gathering back to the city from St. Louis for a three-year commitment beginning in 2021.
About 45,000 people are expected to attend the convocation, booking more than 20,000 hotel rooms, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said.
Strickland said he'd been working on the deal for the last two years with city leaders and COGIC officials. COGIC moved its convocation to St. Louis in 2009. But Bishop Brandon B. Porter says he was never comfortable having the convention there.
"Memphis is home," he said. "There was a uniting of minds and hearts that it's time for the convocation COGIC to come back to Memphis."
Joe Yates has been a Main Street business owner for 30 years, so he remembers Downtown with the convention.
"I used to tell people I could do enough business in that month to pay my rent for a year," he said.
Strickland said the development of new hotels and the renovations at the downtown convention center — which are set to finish in 2021 — played a big part in COGIC's decision.
The 2021 convocation will be split between the Cook Convention Center, Clayborn Temple and the FedExForum.