Its in today's caller, still WAY early in the talks if there are even talks going on though
City talking with Bass Pro Shops
Company may be negotiating to use coliseum
By Neal Falgoust Caller-Times
July 27, 2004
The Corpus Christi City Council meets at 10 a.m. today at City Hall, 1201 Leopard St., for final consideration of the bayfront development plan.
City officials and the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. are negotiating with several companies, including the Springfield, Mo.-based Bass Pro Shops, for the redevelopment of Memorial Coliseum.
Councilwoman Melody Cooper told the Caller-Times and KRIS 6 News Monday that there have been discussions between Bass Pro Shops and the city, but she would not discuss specifics.
"All I know is there has been discussions," she told the Caller-Times.
Asked if Bass Pro Shops is negotiating with the city, City Councilman Rex Kinnison responded that several companies are talking with the economic development office about using Memorial Coliseum. He declined to confirm the talks with Bass.
Bass Pro Shops would not comment.
On July 13, the Caller-Times submitted a request under the Texas Public Information Act for "any communications, including but not limited to e-mails, letters and memos, between the city of Corpus Christi and Bass Pro Shops" and "any documents in the custody of the city of Corpus Christi relating to Bass Pro Shops."
City officials replied to that request on Monday, claiming in a letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott that the information was excepted from public disclosure because it was part of an economic development proposal. Those documents can be kept secret under state law.
Assistant City Attorney Veronica Ocanas said the city is withholding many documents related to the request, pending the attorney general's opinion.
City Manager Skip Noe directed all questions about the development to Ron Kitchens, president and CEO of the economic development office.
Kitchens said the city is in discussions with 12 companies for projects downtown, but he would not name them.
"We've been working on that building for three years," Kitchens said. "Ever since the new AmericanBank Center was approved by the voters, we began to look at how we could reuse the building."
Redevelopment of Memorial Coliseum has become a major topic with the approaching opening of the larger AmericanBank Center later this year. The new arena and convention center will take away many of the coliseum's major customers and the revenue they provide, and in October a consultant told the City Council that demolition of the building might be an option if it could not find a new tenant.
At the time, Kinnison said there appeared to be no municipal use for the building.
"I just really don't see the reuse of this property at all," Kinnison said in October. "This is a piece of property that, from a municipal standpoint, is just an albatross."
Since then, a group of local architects has publicly criticized the city for considering demolition, saying the building is a significant part of the city's skyline and history and should be preserved.
Officials heard those concerns and last week adopted a master plan for the bayfront that included redevelopment of the building.
City officials said the economic development office has been in charge of an effort to find a new private tenant for the building.
Designed by local architect Richard Colley and dedicated to veterans of World War II in 1954, the coliseum has served as one of the city's most versatile public gathering spaces during its 50-year history.
Colley designed the coliseum to echo the shape of Corpus Christi Bay, and the building has won national recognition for its intersecting, metal cross-truss, vaulted roof design, which provides 60,000 square feet of unobstructed floor space.
It would cost as much as $4.4 million to renovate the building and about $500,000 to tear it down. The 10-acre site could be worth as much as $8.5 million, according to estimates by the city staff.
Earlier this year the Bass Pro Shops chain announced the opening of a third Texas store on the shores of Lake Ray Hubbard, on Interstate 30 in Garland. The outdoor store, which will anchor the new 28-acre Harbor Point Development, will include approximately 120,000 square feet of retail selling space plus a restaurant, boat super center and a marina. The store is tentatively planned to open in late 2005.
The stores are known for combining retail with entertainment, conservation and outdoor education. The company's 21 stores attract more than 60 million people annually, according to its Web site. Amanda Nelson contributed to this report. Contact Neal Falgoust at 886-4334 or HYPERLINK mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com