Tag Archives: Memphis Grizzlies

Solution For the Mid South Coliseum: Give It Back to The Tigers

Efforts to move forward with a $233 million redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds have stalled recently, in part due to resistance to tearing down the historic, 50-year old Mid-South Coliseum (MSC). Columnist David Waters of the Commercial Appeal recently came out in favor of saving the Coliseum – and supporters of the redevelopment, which calls for the Coliseum’s demolition, have acknowledged that the opposition is slowing them down.

A Facebook page has popped up (it has actually been around since 2010) dedicated to saving the building. It has almost 3500 members. People that want to save the Coliseum are having meaningful discussions about how to repurpose the arena.

Here’s an idea:

Use the TDZ (Tourist Development Zone) tax money to renovate it – expanding capacity and adding floor level suites, and then sign a long-term lease with the University of Memphis for its Men’s and Women’s basketball teams to play there.

At that point, University of Memphis Men’s Basketball and Football (at the Liberty Bowl) would be the centerpieces of a renovated fairgrounds, which could also serve as an amateur sports hub and retail destination – as developers have long envisioned.

Is that plan feasible? Maybe, maybe not. It’s important to note that the Grizzlies have a non-compete agreement in place that would theoretically limit public investment in any competitor venue (anything that seats over 5,000). The MSC previously seated 11,200 for basketball.

Folks over at the Save the Coliseum Facebook page have done some in-depth analysis of the non compete and even posted an interview on the topic with Grizzlies President Jason Wexler.

But before we get too realistic, let’s take a look at a few reasons why it makes some sense.

1. The Grizzlies success. Some long time fans of the Tigers (like my father) have feared the day when the Grizzlies became championship contenders and supplanted the beloved Tigers as the most popular draw in town.

Well, that day has pretty much arrived. The Grizzlies are cultivating an entire generation of fans – which is a great thing. Hopefully for the Grizzlies and the city’s sake – that translates to decades of strong attendance and healthy financial status.

That being said, FedExForum is a little too big, and too far from campus to be the ideal home for the Tigers.

I know what you’re saying: But they filled it up when they were winning and they will again. I suppose there’s some, but not full truth to that statement.

Which brings me to my next point….

2. Why not create demand for tickets? Even when the Tigers averaged over 16k at FedExForum, there were usually thousands of empty seats. The number of allotted student seats has always been too high, which translated to empty seats at basically every game.

And let’s be honest, the type of success Memphis had under John Calipari is a once or twice in a lifetime type thing. Better to create demand, if possible. A 12k or 13k seat arena is more than enough capacity to satisfy the hard core loyalists – and create a very strong demand for non-season ticket holders.

2. Students. Ever since moving to the Pyramid in the 1990’s, Memphis has struggled to get full student participation at games. The fact is that getting a large number of students downtown from campus is really difficult. Having a venue just a few miles from campus would help create a true home court advantage.

TCU Basketball is renovating an old arena similar in shape to the Mid South Coliseum. Could the project serve as a template for Memphis?
TCU Basketball is renovating an old arena similar in shape to the Mid South Coliseum. Could the project serve as a template for Memphis?

3. Tradition & Atmosphere. Elliot Perry, Keith Lee, Andre Turner, Larry Finch, Jack Eaton. The list goes on. Way on. The tradition of Tiger Basketball at the Mid-South Coliseum is tremendous. Any fan of the program over 35 has some pretty awesome memories of the place.

If it is all possible to renovate the MSC and make it a state-of-the-art home for their beloved Tigers, fans of the program would be ecstatic.

Well, maybe not all Tiger fans. I‘ve floated the idea at MemphisTigers.org and so far the response has been lukewarm at best. So maybe I’m a little too old and out of touch on this one – but I remember the incredible game atmosphere at the MSC.

Nothing rocked like the old roundhouse. Previous capacity was 11,200. Ideally capacity could be increased by a few thousand and some amenities added. A similar project has been undertaken to a similar building which houses TCU Basketball – so there may be a precedent for the project.

Here are details of TCU’s renovation:

TCU announced plans for a $45 million renovation to the arena. The project will transform the 53-year-old facility into a modern arena, with widened concourses, additional bathrooms and upgraded concessions. The court will be lowered several feet to accommodate additional rows of seating that will fill in the large curves currently on either side of the court, giving fans courtside seating and much closer views of the action. Among the many additions and upgrades would be a courtside club on the floor level for season ticket holders.

4. Surrounding Neighborhood. The city has invested a great deal in Overton Square. Cooper Young is essentially 2 blocks from the MSC. Having the Tigers back in Midtown provide a boost, economically speaking, for the area. It would also help win political support for the TDZ and overall plan being pushed by the developers and point man Robert Lipscomb. Just imagine the crowds rolling into Central BBQ, Young Avenue Deli, Sweet Grass, Cafe Ole, etc… before and after Tiger games. The neighborhood would be popping again.


Of course, there’s a big reason why it probably won’t happen: a 20-year lease the Tigers signed with the Grizzlies to play in FedExForum. The lease was signed in 2004, so presumably (unless it has been amended) it runs through 2024. So for this to work, (a) the Tigers would have to want to do it, and (b) the Grizzlies would have to be accommodated.

The Grizzlies and the Tigers by all accounts have had a great working relationship, so perhaps they can work together. Perhaps the City could incentivize the Grizzlies with other lease adjustments. Perhaps the Tigers could continue to play a few games downtown each year, with favorable financial terms for the Grizzlies. Who knows? I’m sure something could be worked out.


Much of this seems like a fantasy, but the truth is FedExForum is probably too big, and too far away from campus for the UofM – long term.

Fans that oppose the move cite the recruiting advantages of FedExForum, but none of the top programs in the country play in NBA arenas and none play as far from campus as Memphis does. Louisville makes a downtown arena work, but it’s only 2.9 miles from their campus. Almost every other major college program – Duke, Kansas, UNC, Syracuse, etc… play their games on campus. Again, if Memphis is top 5 in the polls – they could play in Tupelo and they’d draw. But during most seasons, a smaller venue (12k) closer to campus would be ideal.

If it were a state of the art, renovated Mid-South Coliseum, it would be more than ideal.

It would be a dream come true.


Here’s a video on the current state of the MSC:

 

CORRECTION: The original entry on this post said the Facebook group to save the coliseum was new. It is, in fact, not new. It was started in 2010.

Grizz TCB vs. Jazz – ZBo Hits Amazing Shot (vine)

 

  • The Grizzlies took care of business against Utah Wednesday night – beating the Jazz by a count of 100-90.
  • Memphis held the inferior Jazz at a safe distance most of the night. Though Utah stayed within shouting distance, the outcome of this one never felt in doubt.
  • Memphis matched the longest win-streak in franchise history (8), and pushed their overall record to 37-12.
  • The Grizz look to extend their streak to the longest in franchise history Friday night at Minnesota.
  • I don’t know about you, but BBALLJONES believes in this team’s capacity to keep winning at the current rate. The Grizz have the look of an elite unit. If they can stay healthy, the next 3-4 months could be a very wild ride in the city of Memphis.
  • Marc Gasol led the Grizz with 23 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Blk.
  • ZBo had 18 and 11 – and this amazing shot…..

grizz

Dave Joerger: “We’re Lucky” (Post Suns 2/2)

Dave Joerger recognizes a gift when he sees it. After the Memphis Grizzlies escaped Phoenix Monday by a final score of 102-101, the head coach was blunt in his assessment (quotes courtesy of Fox Sports South):

“We’re lucky. You know we’re happy because we got out of here with a win in a game, where ya know – probably it should have gone the other way.”

You gotta respect that kind of self-awareness.

Joerger didn’t, however, fail to recognize that the Grizzlies did some stuff to make the luck happen:

When we were down late – 7, 8, we executed finally. Obviously Jeff (came) up with a big play.

Some other notes on the Grizz:

  • Memphis now moves to 36-12 on the season and sits a full 3 games ahead of Houston in 2nd place in the Western Conference. The Grizz are 2.5 games behind Golden State.
  • The win was Memphis’ 7th consecutive.
  • The Jeff Green trade seems to be working out doesn’t it?
  • Green didn’t have a great shooting night, but finished with 12 points and 7 rebounds – including the go-ahead 3-point play with 4.5 seconds remaining.
  • Zach Randolph – who has been on a tear of late – missed a double/double by 1 rebound. He finished with 19 and 9.
  • The Grizz continue their road trip on Wednesday night at Utah. 8pm.

Thunder Coach: Grizz Are a 2-Way Team Now

The word is out in the NBA. The Memphis Grizzlies are no longer simply a Grit Grind operation.

Memphis pushed its record to 35-12 on Saturday night with an 85-74 win over the Thunder. The Grizz victory came on the strength – literally – of Grizzlies Veteran F Zach Randolph, who finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds and continues to play his best basketball in several years.

But it was Brooks’ comments before the game that tell the evolving story of why these Grizzlies appear to be rising to the proverbial ‘next level’ of the NBA hierarchy.

Brooks on the Grizzlies:

“They’re a good defensive team. They’re a 2-way team now. They used to just be a half court team. Just pound you inside and get an occasional jump shot. But now they defend and they score.”

 

“They’re playing a bit faster. This year they’ve made an effort to play with more pace. We have to take care of the basketball.”

When it comes to the Grizzlies – Brooks should know – Saturday night’s game was the 36th between the two clubs in the last 5 seasons. Two, 7-game playoff series breed familiarity.

About that taking care of the basketball thing? Mission not accomplished – the Thunder coughed it up 17 times against the active Grizzlies defense. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant had 4.

Watching the Grizzlies with all their main guys available – Mike Conley was back in the lineup on Saturday – has become a thing of beauty. That is if you like defense, precision passing and pace – as Brooks refers to it.

The word is out. The Grizz can beat you two ways.


 

Watch the full interview here (video courtesy of Oklahoma City Thunder):

 

 

 

Grizzlies Opponents Admire Defense, Rebounding & Chemistry

The Memphis Grizzlies finished off a 2-0 road trip last night winning at Orlando 106-96. On Wednesday, the Grizzlies defeated Brooklyn and former coach Lionel Hollins. Memphis now gets 5 consecutive games at FedExForum – a great opportunity to stockpile some more wins heading to the halfway point of the season. The Grizzlies are currently 28-11 and within 4 games of the #1 seed, but also within 4 games of the #7 seed. The West is a grind – but Memphis is well positioned.

Understanding the Grizzlies from the point of view of their opponents is a good way to comprehend exactly why the Grizzlies are such a tough out right now, especially when fully healthy – and the answer isn’t groundbreaking. According to Nets and Magic players and coaches – the Grizzlies are NBA Championship contenders at the moment for 3 primary reasons: (1) Chemistry, (2) Defense, and (3) Rebounding. Here’s a quick summary of what the Grizzlies’ opponents had to say after facing them this week.

Quotes courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel and New York Post.

1. Experience and Chemistry:

Hollins on the fact that the Grizzlies have grown up together:

“Those guys were puppies, and now they’re men.”

“The nucleus has been there for a long time with Zach, Marc, Mike and Tony. Those guys have been there from the get and they are a big part of winning and as long as they are together they are going to have a winning [group].”

Orlando Magic Coach Jacque Vaughn on the Grizzlies experience:

“But you give those guys credit. They’ve been doing it together for a long time.”

2. Defense and Rebounding:

Hollins on what makes the Grizzlies so good:

“That’s what they do, they’ve got two big guys. … Zach had 20 points, Marc had 18 and most of them were in the paint for both of them. That’s their game. They’re a very good defensive team, they’re a very good rebounding team, and that’s why they’re one of the best teams in the league.”

Victor Oladipo’s take on the Grizzlies:

“It seemed like every option we had, they kind of took it away. We just had to play off instincts, really, and just go out there and figure out a way to score. But they’re a great defensive team, a great overall team. They’ve got great players over there, great defensive players over there.

Adding Jeff Green is going to help the team offensively – as will getting Mike Conley back healthy and everyone clicking together. But the key to this team has been and continues to be defense, rebounding and chemistry.