Memphis Farmers Markets share their vision for the future

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – The Memphis Sports Hall of Fame received 27 new names Thursday night, and the list includes top athletes, coaches and contributors.

The Memphis Sports Council and Memphis Tourism hosted the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the newly renovated Renasant Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

The biggest names in local sports were asked about Mayor Jim Strickland’s big bid.

The mayor wants to spend $684 million to renovate FedExForum, Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, AutoZone Park and replace the Mid-South Coliseum with a soccer stadium for 901 FC.

Wrestling legend and Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler fought for years to save the Coliseum.

He says Mayor Strickland broke the news to him before it was released to the media this week.

“Mayor Strickland actually came to my house two nights ago to tell me about his plan,” Lawler said, “and it’s sad. But you know what? Nothing in life is certain but change.

Destroying the coliseum does not change my memories of what happened there or anyone else’s memories of what happened there.

The University of Memphis Tiger, who set the record for the Liberty Bowl field, said the changes are great, but he prefers a different plan.

“I’d rather have a campus stadium,” DeAngelo Williams said, “and we can hold 20,000 or 30,000 people and do what we do to our stadium whenever we want, rather than let’s leave it to the general public to decide and just whoever wants to use it.”

Fred Jones has certainly seen a lot of changes at the Liberty Bowl since he founded the Southern Heritage Classic three decades ago.

“You always like to have amenities,” he said, “And the fans, the people who support us, need as many amenities as possible.”

Steve Ehrhart, approaching 30 years as CEO of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the nation’s seventh-oldest bowl game, welcomes the touches, though he says the stadium, which opened in 1965, has been well maintained.

“We’re looking forward to an improved stadium. But it’s still one of the best stadiums to watch games in, you’re so close to the pitch,” he said.

Lionel Hollins, who coached the Grizzlies to more regular-season wins than any other coach in franchise history, said improving stadiums and building new stadiums is critical to the city’s success.

Like the old saying in the movie, if you build it, they will come. And I’m sure,” Hollins said, “You look at FedExForum. If it wasn’t built there, the Memphis Grizzlies wouldn’t exist.”

Mayor Strickland said he plans to ask the state of Tennessee to provide $350 million in stadium upgrades.

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