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VOL. 132 | NO. 258 | Friday, December 29, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Liberty Bowl Sell-Out Prep, Beale's Year and Tubby Talks

By Bill Dries

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The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is a sell out as of Thursday. And while your thoughts may turn to the sight of a full stadium at the Fairgrounds, at least some of you who are going are thinking about what traffic will be like in the area. Here is the parking and shuttle game plan at the outset and a day in advance. The Liberty Bowl Parade on Beale is at 3 p.m. Friday followed by a pep rally in the entertainment district and all are welcome.

Speaking of Beale Street, the street is preparing for New Year’s Eve as well as the parade and this has been another interesting year in the business of Beale – not that the word interesting is ever very far from the word business when the topic is Beale Street. Consider that what was supposed to be interim day-to-day leadership of the district by the Downtown Memphis Commission for the city, which owns Beale, will begin its fifth year when the guitar drops on the New Year.

If you have been by what used to be the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park you may have noticed a wreath at the base, the part below where Forrest’s figure on horseback stood until that part of the monument was taken down more than a week ago. An email from Lee Millar, leader of the Memphis Sons of Confederate Veterans and spokesman for Forrest’s descendants, says the family placed the wreath there at the base where Forrest and his wife are interred Tuesday, adding “The bronze memorial statue headstone at the gravesite was stolen a week ago.” New barriers have gone up around the base of the statue.

Slate on what is likely the next front in this story – the reaction from the Tennessee Legislature.

The removal of that and the Jefferson Davis statue figure prominently in an end-of-year review on “Behind The Headlines.” Our guests are Karanja Ajanaku of the New Tri-State Defender and Toby Sells of The Memphis Flyer. The show airs Friday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 8:30 a.m. on WKNO TV.

“Never ask the masses, always ask the classes.” Tigers basketball coach Tubby Smith in an exclusive Q&A with Don Wade on unrest in Tiger nation and the drop in attendance at the Forum as well as lots of other topics. Smith points out that his predecessor, Josh Pastner, saw attendance start to drop when Tigers basketball was winning. And he talks about the difficulties of marketing college basketball compared to the pros. This is must reading.

So is the cover story of our weekly, The Memphis News, which takes you through the historic Tigers football season right up to Saturday’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl. You might want to read it with your rain slicker on and only a clear bag for your belongings please.

The only thing comparable to this season really isn’t comparable when you consider the 1963 Memphis State Tigers who went undefeated 54 years ago. The Liberty Bowl wasn’t built yet and when it was it wasn’t yet called the Liberty Bowl. It was Memphis Memorial Stadium. And the Liberty Bowl football game hadn’t arrived in Memphis. The first five Liberty Bowls were played in Philadelphia and in 1964, the game moved to the Atlantic City Convention Center, giving it the distinction of being the first indoor college bowl game. The game came to Memphis the following year with Ole Miss and Auburn in the new stadium at the Fairgrounds and has been here ever since.

The PDF of the new issue is up now on this very website. The hard copies go in the stands Friday morning and the online version of the cover story will be up here Friday afternoon.

More moves in the state and federal primaries on the August 2018 ballot. London Lamar, among the new blood in the local Democratic party, who has been active in Tennessee Young Democrats, told supporters in southeast Memphis Thursday evening that she is considering running for state Representative in the August primaries. This would probably be for the District 91 state House seat now held by Democrat Raumesh Akbari. Akbari recently launched her own exploratory campaign as she weighs running for the District 29 state Senate seat Democrat Lee Harris is giving up to run for Shelby County Mayor. So it sounds like if Akbari makes the leap for the Senate, Lamar will make the leap for the House. Lamar had considered a bid for the state House two years ago but thought better of what would have been a challenge of incumbent Democrat Johnnie Turner and never filed.

A top advisor to Tennessee House speaker Beth Harwell, who is among the Republican contenders for Governor, is leaving her staff.

A week after he was granted clemency and formal exoneration by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Lawrence McKinney – wrongfully convicted on rape and burglary charges in Memphis in 1978 and imprisoned for 31 years – is seeking $1 million from the state – a next step anticipated when Haslam granted the exoneration. McKinney’s attorneys based their dollar figure on other exonerated individuals elsewhere getting $37,000 to $71,000 for each year of wrongful imprisonment. Tennessee has a legal maximum of $1 million.

2017 was the year of mixed use in Memphis development as the reopening and adaptation of the old Sears Crosstown building into Crosstown Concourse became a source of inspiration and also a kind of game plan on which other efforts are gauging their approach to redrawing Memphis.

A new recording studio on Vance south of FedExForum is a transplant from Nashville. Memphis Magnetic Recording Co. is slated to open in February after its founder found some really high prices to try to do the same thing in Nashville.

PROPERTY SALES 51 223 1,152
MORTGAGES 55 189 861
BUILDING PERMITS 149 541 2,593