Memphis In May reports record losses in 2022
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Memphis In May set new records this year, but not the good kind.
Organizers announced Thursday, June 16, that attendance was down and the 2022 festival is in the red, losing nearly $2 million this year. And they’re blaming location, location, location.
While the return of the festival was something to cheer about after two years off because of the pandemic, officials say Memphis In May won’t truly return to normal until it’s back at Tom Lee Park.
They say combined attendance for this year’s Beale Street Music Festival and the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest was the lowest in two decades.
In 2018, more than 178,000 people attended. In 2019, more than 175,000 bought tickets. This year, attendance was below 115,000.
Organizers say it has everything to do with temporarily relocating to Liberty Park in Midtown.
“Clearly the largest change between BSMF and WCBCC for this year compared to previous years is that we were no longer in our home, downtown in Tom Lee Park close to all the hotels,” said MIM V.P. of Marketing Randy Blevins.
Blevins said plans are already being made for next year’s return to Tom Lee Park, which right now, is still very much a work in progress.
George Abbott, Director of External Affairs for Memphis River Parks Partnership, the non-profit in charge of the $60 million transformation of Tom Lee Park, told Action News 5: “Construction is moving ahead quickly and it’s exciting to see Memphis’ new signature park coming out of the ground! The park will be available to Memphis In May for its events in 2023.”
After months of mediation, MRPP and MIM reached an agreement that said Memphis’ biggest party will be allowed to return to its iconic spot on the Mississippi River.
“We are making plans to be in Tom Lee Park for 2023 and that’s really the only discussion we’re having at this point right now,” said Blevins. “We’ll be very happy to be back. It’s an easier venue for us to produce as well. That’s where our fans expect us to be.”
Memphis In May projects a record loss of $1.9 million for this year’s events. The organization took a $1.8 million hit in 2020 when all events were canceled because of the pandemic.
Blevins said MIM received COVID-19 relief funds that will cover the losses.
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