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VOL. 131 | NO. 198 | Tuesday, October 4, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: The Grizz Are Back, Bass Pro Shops Buys Cabela's and Stein at Amurica

By Bill Dries

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Some of you will remember the late George Lapides, whom I worked with for a time at WREC, had a policy about pre-season baseball games or what he called the “Grapefruit League.” It was that they didn’t exist. He wouldn’t acknowledge the games much less the scores.

So the Grizz first pre-season game Monday was an occasion more for watching for signs than watching the score – which by the way was Grizz 102 Orlando Magic 97.

The pre-season game saw no protest or demonstration action by players on either team at the Forum Monday evening. Zach Randolph had talked last month of some kind of demonstration on his part and possibly by other players in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Stay tuned.

Center stage during Tuesday’s council day at City Hall is the third and final vote on the pot ordinance. The only vote count that matters is the one during the council session but a head count earlier in the day during committee sessions could be a key indicator. And if the sponsor of the ordinance, Berlin Boyd, doesn’t count seven votes Tuesday before the gavel falls he might delay a final vote until the conditions are more favorable.

Much of the debate among council members came in committee sessions two weeks before the first reading. Since then, most of the reaction has been outside the council and that means several key votes on this haven’t weighed in publicly.

Several Bass Pro Shops developments, the biggest being the $5.5 billion deal in which Bass Pro Shops will buy their rival Cabela’s. Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris indicated in his written statement that the Cabela’s brand of merchandise will remain and be sold in Bass Pro Shops. The Monday announcement is preliminary. There are regulatory hoops to jump through and the due diligence. The deal is expected to close in the first half of next calendar year.

Once upon a time, when the Pyramid was awaiting a life after being an arena, Downtown developer Henry Turley suggested putting a Cabela’s in the Pyramid but didn’t get much traction. A city task force assembled by Mayor Willie Herenton ultimately recommended the city pursue a Bass Pro Shops store with attractions in the landmark.

From that moment it was about a decade in the making. And Bass Pro Shops opened in May 2015. Since then, we’ve heard a lot of rumblings about what the retail experience has been for the company that doesn’t say very much publicly and is not a publicly traded company either. The Pyramid is a one of a kind store and an attraction in its own right even for a chain that devotes a good part of its space to nonretail amenities like aquariums and exhibits on conservation etc.

So it’s kind of not surprising to hear from Memphis CVB president Kevin Kane on “Behind The Headlines” this week that Bass Pro Shops is looking at changes to the mix of retail and attractions. Our half hour with Kane on WKNO touched on lots of other tourism related topics including the coming renovation of the convention center, the quest for a convention center hotel, how the St. Jude expansion will impact that and Mud Island’s future.

Green Party Presidential contender Jill Stein campaigning in Memphis Monday drew an enthusiastic crowd of 100 at Amurica Studios in Crosstown. And by a show of hands, many in the crowd were supporters of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ quest for the Democratic nomination. Like most third party candidates, Stein’s remarks were long on her platform given the limited share of the national spotlight she has been getting. She argued against voting for “the lesser evil” – identified in this case as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton – or Republican nominee Donald Trump. And she also took a few shots at Libertarian Presidential contender Gary Johnson. Stein said Johnson is drawing media attention because the “corporate media” knows he is not a threat.

More on this in Wednesday’s edition including a distinction she made between being politically active and being involved in social causes.

Most in the crowd lined up to have their picture made with Stein in the Amurica trailer – a popular setting for Memphians on the town for a social event but a different kind of setting for photos with a political contender.

That is usually the domain of the selfie which has eclipsed the autograph and handshake when a candidate works a crowd at the end of a rally. The more formal fundraiser picture for a contribution is usually in front of a black curtain of some kind or maybe a campaign themed backdrop with an American flag present in some way.

Stein did not require donations for the Amurica photos which were against the backdrop of an American flag surrounded by abundant Christmas lights. But all of the normal props in the trailer from a plastic lobster claw to a megaphone to a band hat were removed. The only props were Jill Stein for President signs and they were optional.

Stein also campaigned south of the state line in Oxford Monday evening.

Politico with the role taxes played in the 1976 U.S. Senate race here in Tennessee pitting incumbent Republican Bill Brock against Democratic challenger Jim Sasser.

Finding room in the social studies curriculum for Tennessee history is becoming difficult and the question is what stays and what goes.

The Clarion Ledger’s Geoff Pender finds Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant open to the idea of a Mississippi Lottery.

Don Wade’s notes on the college football weekend in the region and what the Temple game to come means for Tigers football.

Mel and Pearl Shaw in their FUNdraising Good Times column talk about their role in the fundraising feasibility study for the just opened National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

The founding partners of inferno talk about 17 years in advertising, public relations and marketing and the company’s philosophy of being “fuelanthropic.”

Carpenter Street in Binghampton is becoming a thing. We’ve written about the Carpenter Art Garden, probably best known for the plywood Grizzlies lawn heads. Across the street is the Carpenter Street Workshop which now has its first two graduates in bicycle manufacture and repair. Those graduates work at Victory Bicycle Studio.

Good reaction to our recent story on Memphis University School’s departing headmaster Ellis Haguewood who is on the job to the end of the current school year. And Monday, the MUS board of trustees selected his successor. Pete Sanders comes to town from Christ Church Episcopal School in Greenville, South Carolina and he was on campus Monday.

Further down in Digest, Dr. Adebowale Adebiyi’s research at the UT Health Science Center into the cause and treatment of abrupt decline in kidney function garners a $154,000 grant from the American Heart Association.

National Numbers:

Construction spending falls again in August.

Mixed auto sales in September.

And retailers compete for seasonal workers.

Facebook Launches “Marketplace” based on usage of its “Groups” feature.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BUILDING PERMITS 201 554 15,915
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396