City: Coliseum will not be renovated

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis will not move forward with plans to renovate the Mid-South Coliseum, instead deciding to use the money to redevelop the surrounding community.

"We'd rather spend the $40M (about 1/4 of the project) on amenities to benefit the surrounding neighborhoods instead of $40M on reviving the Coliseum without a clear business case that won't lose taxpayer money on an annual basis," the City of Memphis tweeted on Tuesday.

Paul Young, Director of Housing and Community Development approves holding off on making renovations to the Coliseum.

"It made the most sense for us to get it in a state where it could be preserved and continue to work with the community to figure out what the long term plan for that site, that building will be," said Young.

The $40 million will instead be spent on other community improvement. Like reparing the historic Melrose High School. Right now, the $160 million fairgrounds redevelopment project includes an $80 million youth sports complex that the city doesn't want to drop.

"It's not so much what happens in the building its more about what happens in the area around it. All the hotel rooms, all of the spending that will take place as a result," said Young.  "I think it's a slap in the face."

"Over and over again, the most asked for part of any fairgrounds redevelopment is the Coliseum and so to not reopen it with that kind of budget of 160 million dollars is crazy," said Roy Barnes, President of the Coliseum Coalition.

He says a historic building where stars like Elvis once played needs to be reopened.

For now, the city will simply preserve it until a long term plan for its future can be put together.

The city says that's the way to go right now, but a lot of people are disappointed.

The city will be presenting a new plan Tuesday evening. The plan includes making it easier to access the Fairgrounds from various parts of the city including the Greenline, Cooper-Young, the Beltline and, of course, the Orange Mound community.

It's important to note the city also considered demolishing the building, but decided not too.

The city says preserving it shows commitment to getting something done in the future.

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