Plans for Mid-South Fairgrounds face opposition - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Plans for Mid-South Fairgrounds face opposition

The Shelby County Commissioners claim they will lose a million dollars each year for 30 years if the state agrees to designate a 155-acre area as a Tourist Development Zone. The Shelby County Commissioners claim they will lose a million dollars each year for 30 years if the state agrees to designate a 155-acre area as a Tourist Development Zone.
The first step of the process includes an 80 plus page application submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration in Nashville. The first step of the process includes an 80 plus page application submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration in Nashville.
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(WMC-TV) - Last month the city announced plans to renovate the Mid-South Fairgrounds. The first step of the process includes an 80 plus page application submitted to the Department of Finance and Administration in Nashville.

The Shelby County Commission met to discuss the plan Wednesday, but one group is actively opposing the plan.

The Shelby County Commissioners claim they will lose a million dollars each year for 30 years if the state agrees to designate a 155-acre area as a Tourist Development Zone.

County commissioners say they are getting involved in city government for a good reason.

"The city owes us money for schools, the city owes us money for MLGW pilot, the city owes us money to fully fund EDGE," said Steve Basar.

Basar says the city owes the county $57 million for schools, and pending the MLGW pilot he says could they could owe $30 million to $50 million.

"I'd like to see the city of Memphis focus on getting Bass Pro done," said Basar.

The Mid-South Fairgrounds plan was sent to the state's commissioner of Finance and Administration last month. The application asks to certify the fairgrounds as a Tourist Development Zone (TDZ).

Meaning some of the sales taxes collected in the TDZ would finance most of the $233 million public and private redevelopment.

"The biggest thing is the TDZ is gonna reduce the funds for Shelby County Schools. By my estimate it's a million dollars per year for 30 years, so it's not an insignificant amount of money," said Basar.

Basar says the project conflicts with everything that is being done in Cooper-Young and Overton Square.

"They're excluding the new retail in Overton Square ... There's a lot of things happening, and all that's independent of any activities at the fairgrounds. But the city of Memphis is trying to capture all that benefit for this project," said Basar.

He says there are other ways to use the space for similar venues with private funding. It is that issue that got other commission members to agree with him in the meeting.

"It looks like the city of Memphis is trying to pick winners and losers on our dime," said commissioner Terry Roland.

Still the city stands by their proposal; one that the council voted to support in February. Leaders site the Pyramid project as an example of how a TDZ would help fund the fairground renovation. Also they say the project will only be possible if the TDZ is approved.

Basar says he has contacted people in Nashville, who continue to review the application. He has told them about his worries.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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