Lance Russell and Jerry Lawler
Photo Credit: Post And Courier

Legendary Venue The Mid-South Coliseum Saved From Demolition

Legendary Venue The Mid-South Coliseum Saved From Demolition
Photo By Russell Turiak/Getty Images

If you are a fan of the career of Jerry Lawler or Memphis wrestling in general and you know how important the Mid-South Coliseum is. And you have as many legendary matchups on Monday nights in Memphis Tennessee and launched the careers of such names as Jeff Jarrett, Jimmy Hart, Paul Heyman, Jim Cornette, even housed the wrestling career of comedian Andy Kaufman.

Recently, there were plans to have the building demolished as part of new construction but a coalition fought to not only have the building saved from Demolition but to be reactivated and restored. Well, as of yesterday, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland revealed his plans for the Memphis Fairgrounds and in Phase 3, the plan would put Tourism Development Zone funds into Redevelopment of the Coliseum. The following is from

The Mid-South Coliseum has been saved, according to the group that has worked for years to preserve the structure.

Demolishing the Coliseum was a central part of previous plans to transform the Memphis Fairgrounds into a youth sports mecca. But state leaders gave their blessing on a new plan Monday that — at least — leaves the building in place. That was enough for the grassroots Coliseum Coalition to celebrate.

“The Coliseum is officially saved!” the Coalition wrote on Facebook and Twitter Monday.

For that exclamation, the group pointed to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland’s plan for the Fairgrounds. In its third phase, the plan would put Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) funds with private investment to “achieve the reactivation, adaptive reuse, or redevelopment of the Mid-South Coliseum,” the Coalition said.

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On the Coliseum Coalition’s Twitter, there’s a link to a Google Drive document where you can read everything surrounding this situation, and the plans moving forward. Here’s an excerpt regarding the plans for funding:

The Fairgrounds Tourism Development Zone

The State Building Commission approved the City of Memphis’ Tourism Development Zone (TDZ) application in November 2018. While primarily targeted at creating a new Youth Sports Complex, the application and its approval had at least 2 very positive results for the Coliseum. First, the application explicitly stated that, in the plan that the Building Commission approved, “The Mid-South Coliseum and other historic buildings are preserved rather than demolished.” Also, the application allows for TDZ funding of the Coliseum in Phase 3 of the Tourism Development Zone implementation, if Phase 3 happens contingent on extra revenues created by the TDZ.

While we’re very pleased with these results, the Coliseum Coalition knows that bringing the pieces and the parties together to make the Coliseum reopening a reality will be an ongoing process. We look forward to working with the City, County, State of Tennessee, and private citizens to make it happen.

The Fairgrounds and Beyond

While we have focused our efforts on the reopening of the Mid-South Coliseum, we know that the success of the Mid-South Coliseum isn’t possible in a vacuum. Through our own work and the extended work of the Friends of the Fairgrounds’ stakeholder process, it is apparent that the Coliseum is both a contributor to and recipient of the success of a great Fairgrounds plan, the success of the surrounding communities, and the success of Memphis, Shelby County and the Mid-South.

There are three principal, immediate, ways in which the Coliseum serves the community outside of its doors:

1.A reopened Coliseum provides a beautiful, authentic, economical, and robust indoor

space at the scale and quality of the Fairgrounds. Without the Coliseum, the Fairgrounds is a desolate space for 4-5 months a year, as rain and snow, heat and cold, prohibit reliable use of an outdoors Fairgrounds. With the Coliseum, the

Fairgrounds becomes a 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, festival ground that we can be proud of.

2. A reopened Coliseum also provides a 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, major

community anchor to some of the densest census tracts and most vibrant commercial districts in the region.

3. A reopened Coliseum provides not only a strong, uniquely Memphis way to

economically compete against Northern Mississippi, but also a way to create economic activity for the region that is skipping the Mid-South altogether.