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Memphis Produces Nothing But Champions: The Rise of Sports in the City of Soul

The Power of Sports in Memphis

Credit: Phillip Van Zandt

Sports are woven into the history, culture and soul of the city of Memphis. From the historic AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium to the annual St. Jude Memphis Marathon and the lively Memphis Grizzlies games at FedExForum, sports events truly tie the community together.

“Sports are extremely important to the fabric of Memphians. Whether they’re bonding over the latest Grizzlies game or how their kid just got to compete at the brand-new Memphis Sports and Events Center, sports bring people together here.”

JJ Greer, Director of Sports and Events for the Memphis Sports Council

The city is a pipeline for youth sports, welcoming some of the best athletes in the country to develop from youth leagues to collegiate and professional-level play. Memphis’ accessible location in the mid-south paired with its selection of newly-renovated facilities makes it the perfect central sports hub. Over the past three years, the city has heavily invested in sports, renovating and building a selection of new facilities. The Memphis Sports and Events Center, the Renasant Convention Center and P7 Sports Academy are among the many top-notch spaces perfect for hosting sports events of all sizes here. “There was a large need for indoor court space in Memphis and we answered the call on that in a major way by having all of this indoor space come online in the past two or three years,” Greer notes.

The Memphis Sports & Events Center

Credit: DCA

The brand-new Memphis Sports and Events Center (MESC) is a 227,000 square foot state-of-the-art indoor multipurpose facility. Since its grand opening in December 2022, the facility has already leveled up sports in the city and brought in new national-scale events.

“It’s been tremendous. We have done lots of volleyball, basketball, futsal, and cheer and dance events so far. People walk in and it has that wow factor. Top to bottom, the events that have been hosted have been really successful. Overall, it has been really fantastic and we continue to add more events to the calendar every day,” Greer says.

A Look into the Facility

Inside, the facility is divided into 2 parts: the courts side and events side. On the courts side, cutting-edge technology allows operators to easily swap between sports, converting 8 hardwood basketball courts into 16 volleyball courts with the touch of a button. “Everything comes down from the ceiling with the touch of a button. You can flip it from basketball to volleyball within minutes, it’s really incredible,” Greer shares. This area is also complete with a large canopy that allows parents, coaches or VIPs to view all courts at once from above.

Credit: DCA

On the events side, 75,000 square feet of open space with Taraflex® flooring was made to host any indoor sport, with bleacher seating for 2,500 spectators. This space also boasts top-notch amenities including VIP Sky Boxes, monitors and couches, and a café with a full kitchen that offers fresh, affordable dining options. “It really is like a stadium-feel. You don’t have to leave the building for anything,” Greer adds.

Sports in the Heart of the City

The center is conveniently located in Liberty Park, the city’s historic fairgrounds area that is being newly developed as a sports and events hub. “The vision is really for it to be a sports hub right in the heart of Memphis. The idea is that the Memphis Sports and Events Center is there to house primarily amateur sports events and the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium will host your college or professional football games. There is constant new development with the core goal of being able to eat, stay and play all on the campus of Liberty Park,” Greer shares.

MESC’s Impact on Memphis

With so much flexible space, larger-scale events are coming to Memphis that can successfully compete all under one roof, including the NCAA College Basketball Academy. From July 24-31, 2023, the top girls and boys high school players from across the country will arrive in Memphis to compete in front of hundreds of college basketball coaches. USA Basketball is hosting their 3×3 Training Camp in conjunction with the event, and Canada Basketball will simultaneously host a training camp for their national team.

Events at the Memphis Sports & Events Center

Renasant Convention Center

Credit: Creation Studios

In 2021, the Renasant Convention Center unveiled an impressive $200 million renovation, featuring the region’s largest flexible 118,000 square foot column-free exhibit hall. The riverfront venue houses enough space for 20 volleyball courts and 10 basketball courts ready for larger scale indoor tournaments. Located in the heart of downtown Memphis, the Renasant Convention Center is perfect for those looking to stay and play in the midst of the bustle of the city.

Inside the Renovation

The extensive renovation transformed the entire building to take advantage of its riverfront views and offer modern, flexible event space. The exhibit hall can be divided into three sections and is perfect for large events needing open space.

Credit: Creation Studios

Sports in the Renasant Convention Center

Volleyball, martial arts, wrestling, and futsal events have thrived in the convention center, with United Futsal hosting their Central Conference Finals at the center each December. “Event organizers really like the convention center because it’s a newly renovated building right in downtown Memphis. The location also offers hotels right there on Main Street. You get the walkability of downtown with the restaurants, shops, and entertainment, and you get to compete in a gorgeous facility,” Greer notes.

Events at the Renasant Convention Center

P7 Sports Academy

Credit: Julian Harper

Just a few minutes from Memphis in Cordova, Tennessee, the newly opened P7 Sports Academy changed the game for indoor sports events in the region. The 45,000 square-foot space features 5 basketball courts that can be converted to 8 volleyball courts and a performance training area. P7 Sports Academy’s team offers personal service for all of their events and are highly responsive in offering available dates.

From Youth Sports Events to Professional Training

The facility opened just before the MESC and has already successfully hosted basketball events for Under Armour, Reebok and Made Hoops, to name a few. Even the professionals, some of the city’s hometown NBA players for the Memphis Grizzlies, train at P7 Sports Academy in the off-season. The space is perfect for all ages and competition levels and can also host wrestling, cheer, dance, and any other indoor sport.

Bringing Sports to a New Level in Memphis

P7 Sports Academy’s opening kicked off a wave of new sports events in Memphis. “P7 Sports Academy came online just before the Memphis Sports and Events Center and it was a huge deal. We work closely with their team and they are extremely accommodating. It is also quite affordable to compete there. It is a really high-quality facility – the courts, the hardwood, it’s a dream come true,” Greer adds.

Credit: Julian Harper

Events at P7 Sports Academy

A Leader in Sports Tourism

Credit: Julian Harper

The Memphis Sports Council team, the local facilities’ staff, and the Memphis community all unite to elevate sports events in the area. With thousands of hotel rooms, proximity to the Memphis International Airport and surrounding cities, unparalleled indoor sports event space, a unique visitor experience, and a widespread local passion for sports, Memphis, Tennessee is surely a leader in sports tourism and a testament to the power of sports in enriching communities at large.

To check out all Memphis has to offer, head to their Playeasy profile here.

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Brenna Collins, Playeasy Content Creation Manager
Written By: Brenna Collins
Memphis Sports Council

Memphis Sports Council

Memphis, TN

JJ Greer

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