Jerry Lawler, Donald Trump propose to buy Mid-South Coliseum, turn historic arena into innovative timeshare resort
WMC-TV is reporting that Jerry Lawler and Donald Trump held a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis to announce plans to buy the Mid-South Coliseum and turn the historic arena into an innovative timeshare tourist attraction.
Although not yet approved by the city council, Lawler and Trump’s proposal calls for the former 11,365-seat Coliseum to be renovated to include a Memphis wrestling museum, a championship miniature golf course and the city’s largest deli, in which multiple parties would hold rights to use the property under a contracted alloted amount of time.
The Coliseum, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has made headlines recently, with the city council proposing to demolish the long-empty venue as part of a continued redevelopment of the Memphis Fairgrounds and adjacent Liberty Bowl.
Trump and Lawler have stepped up not only to save the former “Entertainment Capital of the Mid-South” but also to turn the landmark into a moneymaking venture that would appeal to both townspeople and tourists alike.
According to Trump, this unique timeshare restaurant/resort concept lowers the risk of investment while potentially maximizing huge profits.
“As long are you’re going to be thinking–think big,” said Trump, speaking in front of the Memphis media for the first time since the USFL expansion days of the city’s Showboats franchise. “When Jerry approached me with this proposal backstage at a recent WWE event in Las Vegas, I immediately understood the concept and its potential. I’m still the number-one developer in New York. I’m the biggest in Atlantic City. And maybe now Memphis. Already, Vince McMahon is interested in housing an actual WWE Hall of Fame facility on the grounds as well.”
Lawler revealed that he abandoned plans to open Jerry “the King” Lawler’s Deli last fall with hopes of opening the proposed eatery in the same arena in which he served up mayhem to thousands of fans every Monday night for nearly 30 years.
“The Coliseum has so many memories for me that I’d like to give back to the city to provide a form of entertainment that has true value for the people of Memphis,” said Lawler, a two-time mayoral candidate. “Dollar for dollar, you won’t find a better entertainment deal, and best of all, there will be plenty of seating.”
In the opposing corner is Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who wants to clear the Coliseum and rebuild Maywood Beach, an outdoor water park that was popular for decades after opening in nearby Olive Branch, Miss., in 1931. Like the original concept, Mayor Wharton proposes to build an enormous swimming pool lined at the bottom with several hundred tons of white sand imported from Destin, Fla.
“We have to question whether there is a higher and better use for that piece of land,” Mayor Wharton said. “I have my opinion. I think there is. Namely, a beach within reach for the people of Memphis.”
Once serving as center stage for everyone from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones to Elvis Presley, the Coliseum has seen better days. A non-compete clause at FedEx Forum ended concerts at the venue, and millions would need to be spent to correct code issues, including accessibility for the disabled.
“I don’t make deals for the money,” Trump explained. “I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. I have made the tough decisions, always with an eye toward the bottom line. Perhaps it’s time Memphis was run like a business.”