‘More than a few’ architects submit proposals for 901 FC stadium project
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The deadline for architects to submit a design proposal for the Memphis 901 FC stadium project has passed.
We’re still awaiting an exact number of interested firms from the City of Memphis, whose overseeing the process, but 901 FC President Craig Unger said the number is “more than a few.”
According to Unger, there will be a shortlisting process, followed by a selection in mid-March.
“We’ve got a seat at the table,” Unger said Monday. “It’s a group decision, and obviously as the tenant and ultimately the operator of the building, our input is part of that.”
Unger recently returned from his second trip to the Tennessee General Assembly this year, pushing for the roughly $50 million needed to fund this project.
As of now, that funding has still not been secured.
“There’s a lot of momentum in Memphis,” said Unger. “We had very, very good conversations about all of the projects that are involved in this, including soccer. I think everyone left there with a lot of optimism.”
Once an architect is selected, the next step will be getting down to the increment details of how the stadium will operate.
“Floor by floor, section by section, it will be the actual design of the stadium,” Unger said. “The detail will become very much more than just a nice picture.”
As it stands, the project would replace the Mid-South Coliseum, which has been vacant since 2006.
Advocates like Marvin Stockwell have worked for years to preserve the coliseum and promote its potential.
Stockwell and his group the Coliseum Coalition have identified five other sites in and around Liberty Park that would serve as a suitable location for the project, while also keeping the coliseum intact.
“We looked at the renderings that the city put forth, and we said, ‘Where might stadiums like that fit?’”
The locations are also based on stadium designs of other USL teams.
“That looks kind of like the Louisville model or the Birmingham model... There are all sorts of minor league soccer precedents that you can point to,” said Stockwell.
We asked the City of Memphis if they were dead-set on demolishing the coliseum to make way for a 901 FC project.
They responded with, “We are committed to having 901FC at Liberty Park, and we’re moving full-speed ahead with this project... We feel optimistic about making this transformative development a reality.”
The city has told us in the past that a demolition project would cost in the range of $7-$9 million, a price tag Stockwell sees as unnecessary.
“What sense does it make to build at a site where there is $X million of additional cost... than building somewhere that has open land in the city?”
Stockwell adds that he’s for a stadium for 901 FC but that the franchise could do well at any of his proposed alternative sites and have everyone win in the end.
“We shouldn’t be in a rush,” Stockwell said. “We have a history of adaptive use. It’s kind of the anti-Nashville. Knocking down the coliseum would be a very Nashville thing to do.”
“Purely from a soccer fan perspective, they need a place to call their own,” said Unger. “They need their own home, just like all of the other sports are going to have their own dedicated home, soccer is the next one that needs that.”
The hope is to have a finalized plan with a selected architect by the end of the month.
Then, the next step would be finding a construction company to take on the project.
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