VOL. 131 | NO. 169 | Wednesday, August 24, 2016
City Council Approves Wiseacre's Coliseum Plan
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members approved Tuesday, Aug. 23, with an 11-0 vote a resolution setting forth a plan for Wiseacre Brewing Co. to lease the Mid-South Coliseum.
The terms include a 180-day due-diligence period in which Wiseacre will determine whether its concept of a brewery in the Coliseum is feasible.
Wiseacre would pay the city a refundable $25,000 deposit during that time.
If the idea proves feasible, Wiseacre would enter into a 30-year lease with two five-year renewal periods with the city to lease the entire Coliseum for $25,000 a month.
The city would deliver the arena to Wiseacre as is under the terms with no improvements by the city. Wiseacre would be responsible for all changes to the 50-year-old building's conversion.
Wiseacre would also sublease space beyond the brewery for retail and other commercial tenants, and the city would get 30 percent of the rent from the subleases beyond $25,000 a month.
The council vote came after the council reviewed an alternate proposal by DSG group headed by Brian Saulsberry.
Saulsberry presented what he described as a $27.5 million plan that he later said ultimately came to $60 million total including several out parcels like a Coliseum museum on the site of the old Libertyland amusement park.
Council members were openly skeptical of Saulsberry's claim to have the financing. Several council members also questioned a claim in his paperwork that bowling at the DSG version of a Coliseum hosting family oriented sporting events would draw $27 million in revenue from bowling.
Council chairman Kemp Conrad said the council would review any other proposals in council committee sessions Sept. 6.
That prompted Wiseacre co-owner Frank Smith to wonder whether his company has the certainty it needs to move forward with spending money on architectural and engineering studies during the due diligence period.
But Conrad said later it is unlikely the council will hear an alternate proposal that causes it to reverse Tuesday's decision on the lease agreement. He also noted that the Wiseacre-Coliseum deal becomes final in two weeks with the approval of the minutes from the Tuesday council session.
In other action, the council voted down on third and final reading a referendum ordinance that would have put a new residency requirement for city employees to voters on the November ballot.
Only council members Martavius Jones, the sponsor of the measure, and Edmund Ford voted for the referendum on a requirement that all future full-time city employees must live in the city.
The next opportunity for such a referendum would be in 2018.