Thursday, August 07, 2008

I Have Seen the Future and it is Memphis Roller Derby

Roller Derby Crowd at the Fairgrounds
Last Sunday's Commercial Appeal carried a story about Memphis Roller Derby's business struggles at the Memphis Fairgrounds.

First, the Fairground's new facilities management group is giving MRD the business about their insurance, even though it's the same policy used by roller derby leagues around the country, and hiking their rent at the nearly abandoned Fairgrounds.

Second, Henry Turley, the new Fairgrounds master developer, while lauding the Derby's passion, posits a preemptive NIMBY reaction because of their tattoos and saucy clothing.
"I wouldn't be the one to say no," Turley said. "It would have to be the community stepping in and saying, 'Hey, everything you said you wanted to do with the fairgrounds, that doesn't fit.'"
What community would it be? The present community has embraced them. Perhaps the unbuilt Fairgrounds residential community, or the "the national youth sports events developers hope to attract to a planned indoor athletic facility". A repressive anti-tattoo community from the future vs the real, dynamic and open community that supports Memphis Roller Derby now.

The value added by Roller Derby's energy and creativity is far greater than anything a speculative and prudish tenant could bring. Memphis Roller Derby is the kind of vital, home grown enterprise that a new Memphis and a new Fairgrounds should embrace and build around.

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Blogger Adam said...

There have been more MRD bouts than anything else combined at the Fairgrounds this year, and they want to get rid of it? But first, they want to squeeze as much money from them possible. Pathetic.

There are people in Memphis who still don't know there's a Roller Derby league here. People who'd come to bouts and maybe even sign-up.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Nox said...

I've been semi-following this and it looked pretty bad from my perspective.

The worst part is that this management company isn't even from Memphis. I cannot believe this city, it cant stop shooting itself in the foot long enough to get anything right.

When someone in this city actually shows initiative and energy, they throw roadblocks in their way.

And, being someone who lives less than a mile away - this is exactly what I want in my city and my area. I'm a homeowner here. That's my vote.

What I don't want, is people like f'in Turley to come in and try to tell me what I don't want. Unfortunately, my vote doesn't count when it comes to development dollars. Memphis is too busy digging itself a hole it will enver get out of.

We've got giant usless structures like the pyramid and fedex forum while our schools get squeezed for their last dime. Way to fail.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Guess what shut down the only skate park of Memphis? That's right a property management firm ( not from memphis) doubled the rent and forced the skate park out of business. This looks like a repeat performance.

All I can say is we need to band together and be there for the public input meetings that will be held for the master planning process for the Fairgrounds. Let's hope this process is as genuine as the recent Shelby Farms planning process. They really did listen!

Let's hope they really are receptive to the public input.

Tatoos are Midtown! Perhaps someone should introduce Mr. Turley to Rock and Romp. There he could see what the families of Midtown look like ( save Central Gardens). We don't need another Harbortown we need a place that will address the poverty surrounding the area. Although Harbortown is a wonderful place to go when you need a retreat away from the urban landscape.

What type of development can our city come up with that will empower and bring economic opportunity to a dormant and demoralized workforce? Unfortunately this is asking a lot of Turley, he's a developer not a urban/ community redevelopement guru. This will require a partnership with many community associations, development associations and nonprofits in the area. Will we see these partnerships form? Let's hope Turley looks to engage many people in this process otherwise this will just be another development.

Great post Gates.....

10:14 PM  
Blogger gatesofmemphis said...

Thanks Adam for the link. I read that Craig Brewer is filming MRD for his newest project, which will give them even more deserved attention.

Aaron, Nox, maybe I'm being premature on the Turley thing, but we need grassroots entrepeneurs like MRD a lot more than we need another big tenant, 'specially one that can't deal with modern diversity.

12:15 AM  
Blogger Dirty Constance Agent 99 said...

Things are looking up. Mr. Turley has been a great influence, and so have Craig Brewer & Al Kapone. MRD recently shot a commercial in collaboration with the Al Kapone, Live from Memphis and the city. It's great to have the backing and support. I wrote a little about in my blog

7:51 PM  

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