Rooted in captivating history, vibrant culture, and a love for sports, Memphis has always been a renowned destination. In recent years, Memphis has undergone an incredible citywide revitalization, with substantial investments made to drive tourism and curate an exceptional Memphis experience. Today, Memphis is rapidly expanding as a sports destination thanks to several new state-of-the-art facility builds, new lodging and entertainment options, and more.
“There is lots of investment coming into the city that is welcoming a number of new attractions. We’re excited to bring in new events and visitors to experience all we have to offer. We are here to promote it and celebrate it all,” JJ Greer, Director of Sports and Events for the Memphis Sports Council shares.
Let’s dive into the behind-the-scenes of Memphis’ growth as a sports city.
Accessibility is a key player for the city of Memphis, whether visitors are driving or flying. The Memphis International Airport has over 30 direct flights from many major markets and only continues to expand. With major recent updates to the airport and more to come, traveling to Memphis is easier than ever. Over the past three years, the airport underwent a $245 million renovation that revealed a brand-new concourse in 2022, with more seating and new shops and restaurants. An additional significant renovation is in the works that will completely modernize the airport terminal, adding new baggage and ticket areas.
More than 2,000 new hotel rooms have opened in Memphis between 2020-2022, and an additional 5,000 rooms are in various stages of development in the city. Of Memphis’ 22,000+ sleeping rooms available citywide, more than 4,000 of those rooms across 25 hotels are located in the Downtown and Midtown areas.
Downtown, there has been an explosion of hotel rooms with many of the major hotel brands building unique, boutique properties that offer high-touch, modern experiences. The first hotel of its kind, Caption by Hyatt Beale Street Memphis is the Hyatt’s new boutique brand located on the corner of Beale Street and Front Street, a bustling area with local flair. Opening in 2023, Aloft Hotel will feature 156 rooms in downtown Memphis. The boutique hotel chain by Marriott will offer a sleek, vibrant feel in the heart of the city. For a full list of the up-and-coming hotels in Memphis, click here.
A new wave of sports tourism is coming to Memphis thanks to an impressive collection of new and renovated facilities. The city’s extensive investment into sports facilities has elevated the Memphis experience and provided the infrastructure to house youth, amateur and professional sports at scale.
One of the city’s standout gems, the Memphis Sports and Events Center (MSEC) is a newly-opened 227,000 square foot indoor multipurpose facility in the Liberty Park neighborhood. “The word is getting out about the MSEC after just 6 months. We recently hosted the Nike EYBL, and the city is still buzzing about it. The event featured the best 15U-17U basketball players in the country. It was like having courtside seats to a high-level college or NBA game. There is so much more to come for the MSEC. This is just the beginning,” Greer shares.
The Renasant Convention Center also recently opened after undergoing a $200 million renovation, which includes space for 20 volleyball courts and 10 basketball courts for sports events downtown.
By the University of Memphis campus, the new Leftwich Tennis Center is near completion. The $24 million project will house the University of Memphis tennis team and several USTA events. “This tennis center will be amazing, with 12 indoor courts and 24 outdoor courts. This will be another new facility and sport we will be able to host in terms of large and high-level tournaments,” Greer notes.
To learn more about the new facilities open in Memphis, click here.
In addition to the buildout of youth and amateur venues, the state of Tennessee also just approved major renovations for Memphis’ professional venues. Renovations will occur at FedExForum, the downtown NBA arena, Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, host of the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and AutoZone Park, the AAA Minor League Baseball stadium in downtown Memphis. The city of Memphis, along with the Memphis 901 FC, the city’s professional soccer team, are also looking at building a soccer stadium at Liberty Park, which would further elevate the booming sports neighborhood.
“The theme of the development pathway for champions we’re building in Memphis is stronger now more than ever. We are seeing future college and NBA stars play at the youth level at the Memphis Sports and Events Center and P7 Sports Academy, and just in a few years, they will be playing at the soon-to-be renovated FedExForum downtown in front of tens of thousands in college or the NBA. The same will ring true for the Leftwich Tennis Center – you will see future tennis stars here. And of course, when they are not competing, we have all of these incredible things to do in Memphis.“ – JJ Greer
The city’s unwavering dedication and substantial investment into sports culminates at the Liberty Park district, an ever-expanding athletic hub nestled in the heart of the city. The area offers a seamless sports experience, ensuring visitors never need to leave campus, whether for a youth tournament or professional game. With the new venue plans underway, Liberty Park will ultimately house the Memphis Sports and Events Center, a renovated Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, a brand-new soccer stadium, as well new hotels, restaurants, recreation and retail options.
The area’s convenient location between East Memphis and Midtown offers several nearby dining and entertainment options. Liberty Park sits right on the edge of Cooper-Young, a standout entertainment district and a lively spot to discover locally-owned restaurants, record stores and more.
“Now that Liberty Park is coming online, there are going to be thousands of new visitors every year. With hip neighborhoods like Cooper-Young, visitors have so much to do at their fingertips when they are in town and exploring Liberty Park. Memphis has so much to offer already, and so much more to come,” Greer adds.
After the final buzzer, it’s the people that truly top off the Memphis experience. With Memphians’ passion for sports, plus the city’s accessible location, ongoing construction of new and upcoming venues, and continued citywide revitalization, Memphis is only continuing to flourish as a nationwide sports destination. To inquire about hosting your next event in Memphis, reach out to the Memphis Sports Council team today.
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