The ‘Great American Pyramid’ in Memphis has been home to some spectacular teams and events throughout the years. Both the University of Memphis and the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies once played their games in the arena that once held 20,142 fans. The infamous ‘WWF St. Valentine’s Day Massacre: In Your House’ pay-per-view event back in 1999 took place in the Pyramid, as did what was reported to be Bob Seger’s last ever concert (1997). But this week the Memphis Pyramid opened its doors under new ownership, and is now home to the world’s greatest Bass Pro Shop.
This new Bass Pro Shop within the Memphis Pyramid is almost too over the top to be believed. Attractions include: a man-made cypress swamp, bowling alley, archery range, 105-room hotel designed like a hunting lodge with balconies overlooking the indoor swamp. There will be live ducks, alligators, and fish throughout the pyramid, as well as an observatory at the top providing views of the Mighty Mississippi River and all of Memphis. At this point I don’t think it’s fair to even call this Memphis Pyramid Bass Pro Shop a ‘shop’ at all, it’s like a mixture of Graceland and Disney.
Yesterday (Wednesday, April 29th, 2015) marked the grand opening of the Memphis Pyramid Bass Pro Shop (Bro Shop?!), which took an investment of $100 MILLION from the city of Memphis to see through to completion. Again, this Bass BRO Shop is insane. So insane that the AP decided to focus on the Memphis Pyramid Bass Pro Shop as the focus of yesterday’s ‘AP Big Story’:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Shaped like an Egyptian wonder, the Memphis landmark known as the Pyramid stopped being a regular venue for basketball games and concerts in 2004.
The 32-story structure, with its sleek, angular exterior and prime location along the Mississippi River, has sat largely unused for 11 years, a symbol of the fate of obsolete architectural curiosities like Houston’s Astrodome — cool-looking buildings with no real purpose.
It’s time for the Pyramid to be reborn.
To the delight of outdoorsmen, tourist officials and local politicians, the Pyramid opens Wednesday as the newest location for Bass Pro Shops.
The outdoor goods retailer has converted the building into a stunning ode to commercialism and a promising tourist attraction. Aside from the tens of thousands of hunting, fishing and boating items for sale, visitors can walk through a man-made cypress swamp, go bowling or shoot arrows at the archery range. A 105-room hotel designed like a hunting lodge has balconies overlooking the indoor swamp. There are also live ducks, alligators and fish.
An observatory at the top offers stunning views of Memphis’ downtown and the wide river.
Tourism officials believe the site could attract 2 million people a year and generate much-needed economic activity if travelers come to view it on par with other must-see Memphis destinations like Graceland, Stax Records, Sun Studio and the National Civil Rights Museum. And city leaders hope a $100 million investment in the project will turn the moribund neighborhood known as the Pinch into a thriving commercial area.
Bass Pro and the city agreed on a 55-year lease in 2010. Construction to convert the 535,000-square foot building from arena to megastore began four years ago. About 700 people worked on construction. Another 600 people have been hired as Bass Pro employees.
The result of the makeover is impressive. The cypress swamp covers most of the ground floor. Moss dangles from fake trees, and the watery bog is dotted with stuffed wild pigs and other animals.
Surrounding the swamp are various retail sections with hand-painted wall murals of idyllic outdoor scenes. The fishing section contains about 30,000 items. A general store will sell homemade fudge. The 13-lane bowling alley has a water motif with fish dangling from the ceiling and ball returns shaped like alligator mouths. There’s also an interactive duck hunting game.
An elevator takes visitors up to The Lookout at the Pyramid, a restaurant and bar with an observation deck providing panoramic views of the river and city.
Rooms at the Big Cypress Lodge were inspired by hunting camps. They have a rustic feel, with dark wood trim and private porches with rocking chairs.
But there are also modern amenities, like flat screen TVs, electric fireplaces and room service, according to hotel manager Lana McDonald. The hotel also has a fitness center and spa.
McDonald estimated in early April that the low-end price for a regular room will start at around $259, depending on demand and availability.
David Hagel, general manager of the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid, did not disclose expected sale figures or how much the private company spent on construction. But he did describe it as the company’s largest financial endeavor outside of its Springfield, Missouri location.
My only question is when and who among you bros is down to take a road trip there with me? This place is my new Mecca, and I fully intend on visiting the Memphis Pyramid Bass Pro Shop / Big Cypress Resort before the year ends.
You can follow the link on over to the Memphis Pyramid Bass Pro Shop for more information, or click that Big Cypress link above for more info on the resort that will restore the glory of Memphis.