by Jon Styf


A Tennessee Senate committee will be looking at bills to extend tax deals for the Memphis Grizzlies’ FedExForum through 2059 on Tuesday.

The tax proposal comes up as Gov. Bill Lee has proposed sending $350 million to Memphis for renovations at the Grizzlies’ FedExForum and Memphis’ Liberty Stadium. That is part of $684 million in planned renovations to Memphis sports facilities.

The tax deals will be part of paying off bonds on the renovation projects. The Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee will look at the bills on Tuesday morning.

Senate Bill 891 would continue a sales tax capture at the FedExForum through 2059 and also extend the sales tax capture at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators, through 2059 for non-NHL events.

A fiscal note on the bill estimates the sales tax capture is worth $5 million annually for Memphis and bumps up to $12 million annually when the $7 million estimate for Bridgestone Arena is included from Fiscal Year 2049 to 2059.

The Bridgestone Arena funds are to be used for “expenses associated with securing current, expanded, or new events at the arena.”

The sales tax deal where the Memphis Grizzlies retain sales tax for tickets, food and drink, parking and merchandise.

Another portion of the renovation fund is $3.4 million in annual car rental taxes, which will also be extended through 2059 if Senate Bill 935 is approved. The funds come from a 2% car rental tax in Shelby County.

There’s a group of legislators who think, ‘You know who should pay for upgrades to an NBA arena? People whose cars broke down and have to get a rental. That seems fair,’ “ said Economist J.C. Bradbury of Kennesaw State University in Georgia. “Public finance practices are totally unconnected to well-stablished economic principles of public finance.”

The Memphis tax fund including sales and the other taxes collected $18.2 million in 2020 and $22.5 million in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter of The Center Square who has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.
Photo “Bill Lee” by Gov. Bill Lee. Background Photo “FedExForum” by Jspotts.