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Tennessee Governor includes FedExForum funding in budget plan

Featured image credit: Ron Cogswell/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has included $350m (£292m/€327m) in funding for renovations at FedExForum and Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium in his proposed budget for the 2023-24 fiscal year.

It comes after The City of Memphis in October outlined a $684m venue development venture which included major upgrades for the two venues, as well as a new stadium for USL Championship club Memphis 901 FC.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and his administration had been seeking significant support for the project from the State of Tennessee, including $350m in cash. Governor Lee has now included the funding proposal in his new budget plan.

FedExForum is home to the Memphis Grizzlies NBA basketball team, while Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium is home to the University of Memphis’ American football team, the Tigers.

The City of Memphis’ announcement in October included plans for a new 10,000-person, soccer-specific stadium within the Liberty Park area of the city. The facility is being designed by Odell Sports & Entertainment Studio.

While the state budget includes funding for the FedExForum and Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium upgrades, the Commercial Appeal newspaper noted that it does not appear to include funding for the soccer-specific stadium.

Significant renovations at FedExForum, which opened in 2004, are designed to tie in with a long-term lease extension with the Grizzlies, whose current deal is due to expire following the 2028-29 NBA season.

The Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium upgrades are set to cost $150m to $200m. The City of Memphis and the University of Memphis announced plans in May last year to pursue a renovation of the stadium after deciding not to develop a new home for the Tigers.

At the time, Strickland said the university, which owns the stadium, would need to provide the “lion’s share” of the funding, but in October he stated that this could change with the input of state dollars.