The Pyramid Arena is a 20,142-seat arena located in downtown Memphis at the banks of the Mississippi River. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County. Its unique structure plays on the city's namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. It is 321 feet (98m, about 32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 ft; it is the sixth largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza (456 ft), Khafre's Pyramid (448 ft), Luxor Hotel (348 ft), the Red Pyramid (341 ft) and the Bent Pyramid (332 ft), both in Dahshur. It is also slightly (about 16 feet) taller than the Statue of Liberty. A statue of Ramesses the Great stands in front of the pyramid. The Pyramid Arena has not been regularly used as a sports venue since 2004. In April 2009, the Shelby County Commission voted to sell the county's 50 percent share of the building to the city of Memphis.

Various former uses and events
It was the home court for the University of Memphis men's basketball program, and later for the National Basketball Association's Memphis Grizzlies. However, both teams left The Pyramid in November 2004 to move into the newly built FedExForum. The arena hosted the 1993 Great Midwest Conference Men's and Women's basketball tournaments, the 1994 and 1997 Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament, the 1996 and 2000 Conference USA men's basketball tournament, and the 2003 Conference USA women's basketball tournament. It also held the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in 1995, 1997, and 2001. The Pyramid was the site of the WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House pay-per-view, in 1999. It also hosted the boxing mega-fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in 2002, which Lewis won by a knockout in the eighth round. Filmmaker Craig Brewer used the building as a sound stage for his film Black Snake Moan in late 2005. From 2002 to 2006, the annual Church of God in Christ international holy convocations were held here. The arena has hosted many concerts, by famous artists of many different genres. In 2002, the arena hosted a concert, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band performed, what is reputed to be, the last concert ever in the Pyramid, on February 3, 2007.

When the FedExForum overtook the Pyramid as the city's primary indoor sports arena, the Pyramid did not have any long term tenants. A committee studied possible uses of the arena in 2005, and considered such uses as converting the arena into a casino, an aquarium, a shopping center, or an indoor theme park. In November 2006, Congressman-Elect Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) suggested that he would attempt to open a "Mid-American branch" of the Smithsonian Institution in the building. However, none of these plans were ever realized.

Bass Pro Shops
In October 2005, media speculation began to focus on an aquarium or a Bass Pro Shops superstore as the most likely long-term tenants of the arena. In 2008, the city and Bass Pro Shops reached a "tentative" agreement, short on details, but based on an intent to develop the now-abandoned structure. On June 30, after 5 years of negotiating, Bass Pro and the City of Memphis signed an agreement for a 55-year lease which would create the main store, additional retail stores, restaurants, offices, and a river museum. In addition, the redevelopment plans include revitalizing the Pinch District, which is the neighborhood around the Pyramid. The city would invest 30 million dollars to help with the seismic retrofitting of the structure, all of which would be funded by future sales tax revenue in the surrounding area. Therefore, essentially no taxpayer money will be spent on this project. Bass Pro hopes to open its store by November 2011.


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Building Activity

  • removed a media and updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via
  • updated a digital reference
    about 6 years ago via Annotator