Grizzlies Could Be In Line To Take Over As Beale Street Operator
The Grizzlies could "wind up running" the Beale Street entertainment district, but a spokesperson for Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. said that "it's all preliminary and no formal discussions have taken place about Beale Street's future," according to Wayne Risher of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. The spokesperson said, "Any formal discussions would be pursuant to the management/development plans we will present to (City) Council once the bankruptcy proceedings are dismissed and Beale Street is under the full control of the city." The city and developer John Elkington's Performa Entertainment Real Estate are "nearing the end of a lengthy court battle for control of Beale Street," which Elkington has overseen "under a master lease with the city" since '82. The Grizzlies "have a huge stake in the street's success, since they operate FedExForum for the Memphis and Shelby County Sports Authority and arena events generate customers for Beale Street." Grizzlies officials yesterday "echoed the mayor's comment that the discussion is premature." Memphis City Council member Harold Collins asked, "Why would the Grizzlies want to get involved in running the street? They've got enough to say grace over already. They're in the entertainment business, but they're also in the NBA franchise business. I just think that would be interesting to see." City Council member Lee Harris said, "The Grizzlies as private operator, that would give me a little bit of pause. Do you want Disney World to own all of Orlando?" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 11/21).