The Mid-South Coliseum has been in the news quite a bit lately, as a group of organizers attempt to save it by finding a new use for the structure. The city opened it up for review back in May, and recently it was revealed that Wiseacre is exploring whether it would be a suitable location for a brewery. It seems unlikely that the arena will be returned to its original use as a venue, but some people would like to see that happen, too. (Although which people, and how many of them there are, seems to be a matter of some debate.) I don’t know much about architecture, or about engineering, or really anything else pertinent to the discussion, but I do have better ideas for what should be done with the Coliseum than, well, anyone else so far. Here are my top 10.
Indoor Water Park
I’d love an indoor water park, especially in the winter. Mayor Strickland has declared that no public funds will be spent on the project, so it may have to be built on the cheap. I’m sure all it would take is $100,000 and a few trips to Home Depot, and it would be a couple of weeks before some government agency in charge of clamping down on extremely dangerous fun would shut the whole thing down for good. But it’d be a fun couple of weeks, and then we’d all have our own “Action Park”-style stories.
Drone Proving Grounds
Need a big open space to test out your new prototype government surveillance, err, fun camera-carrying drone, but without the wind? I know a place with a roof, some lights, and nothing else.
My 2-year-old daughter loves the snakes, alligators, and lizards at the Zoo. I know this is Memphis magazine, and “fill it with snakes” seems like more of a “Louisiana” or “Florida” suggestion, but... fill it with snakes. Why not?
David Bowie Museum
You know, a lot of history took place at the Coliseum. Wrestling matches. Concerts. Riverkings hockey games. Sesame Street Live (I have very fond memories of the 1990 rendition). But David Bowie played there a few times, and that imbues the building with a special significance. There’s not a David Bowie museum yet, so it seems obvious. The Beatles played there? They did “Daydream Believer,” right?
Indoor Ropes Course and Zipline
Like Go Ape! at Shelby Farms, except you could string the cables across the entire expanse of the arena bowl. Ziplines are always fun, and you could always fill the floor area with water to provide a softer crash landing for those who forget how to attach their six safety carabiners. It’d be just as fun as the Shelby Farms version, but the added risk of tetanus would make it a much more daring adventure.
Did I say “fill it with snakes” already? Yes? We regret the error.
Throwback Concert Experience
Lately the trend has been to have “holograms” of various deceased performers put on shows at music festivals... but what if the entire show was a hologram? You could rent out the Coliseum for a night for 10 of your friends, and experience what it was like to see, I dunno, ZZ Top in 1983, complete with hologram band, a hologram of a piercingly-loud PA system, holographic cigarette smoke filling the place with a blue-grey haze, a hologram of Becky who you went to the Junior Prom at Craigmont with, etc. None of this technology exists yet, but I’m sure on a low budget you could fake it with a few projectors and one of those Sonos soundbar things.
You could always turn it into a supermax prison.
An Escape Room Venue
Escape rooms are popular now. Think about how large of a group you could have in your party if the room was the size of a 14,000 seat arena! This is yet another proposition for the budget conscious, because you wouldn’t even have to come up with clever puzzles or physical challenges for people to complete; you could just lock them in the Coliseum. Probably advisable to make sure the restrooms and water fountains function before you open for business.
Look, just hear me out…