Future of live events in Memphis uncertain due to coronavirus

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis tourism continues to take enormous losses while local leaders figure out how to fight the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former member of the Obama Administration, predicted large crowd events would not be able to resume until the fall of 2021.

This means events like Memphis Grizzlies games, Memphis in May and Africa in April will have to be postponed. These projections would even impact places like Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum.

Memphis thrives on large crowds of people, but officials do not know when the city will be able to host events like that again.

“It’s in the back of our minds,” Memphis In May Vice President of Marketing Robert Griffin said. “Just like there are always contingency plans that we have sketched out, but we have not finalized any of those yet.”

Griffin said Memphis in May is preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.

“There’s a little bit of pressure for us to be able to pull these off to the best of our ability, and we’re focused on doing what we can to stimulate the local economy as we normally do,” Griffin said.

As of now, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 30, and Beale Street Music Festival is set to begin Oct. 16.

More than 100,000 people attended the Beale Street Music Festival in 2019. The Grizzlies were on track to draw in nearly 800,000 fans before their season was postponed.

Autozone Park could potentially lose out on more than 400,000 fans with baseball and soccer seasons in question.

Sports leagues that have a presence in Memphis like the NBA, PCL and NCAA are still scrambling to get a live product out as soon as it is safe.

The future of live events in the Mid-South is still up in the air, but local leaders are urging people to follow safety guidelines.

“Staying at home is the number one way you can help us to not be impacted even more than we already have been by the virus,” Director of the Memphis Fire Department Regina Sweat said.

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