Bass Pro Shops officially opened its long-awaited superstore inside the Memphis Pyramid on Wednesday, after more 10 years since Bass Pro first expressed interest in the location. At 32 stories tall, the monolithic structure has been transformed from an empty husk into an outdoorsman’s delight.
In addition to all the amenities that customers have come to expect from a Bass Pro Shops store, the pyramid superstore also includes a man-made cypress swamp (reportedly with live alligators), larger than usual archery and shooting ranges, a Ducks Unlimited waterfowl museum, a bowling alley, an observation deck at the peak of the pyramid, and a 105-room hotel. The pyramid’s most unique feature may in fact be its central elevator, which currently holds the title of the tallest freestanding elevator in America. Construction on the building took four years and cost an estimated $191 million.
“If you can’t be happy to see something like this, then you don’t have a pulse,” David Hagel, the store’s general manger, told the Star Tribune. “We’re more than retail.”
You can see the teaser for opening day below:
The store expects to bring in over 20,000 guests during opening day, and Bass Pro has hired shuttle services to help alleviate any parking or traffic issues. Celebrity appearances will include bass angler Bill Dance, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, Animal Planet host Ernie Brown, Jr., and musical performances by country music superstar John Anderson and vocalists Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye. Bass Pro will also be raising funds for habitat and wildlife preservation in its Evening for Conservation event. The store’s grand opening celebration is expected to last into the weekend and visitors can begin purchases on Thursday.
“We are all excited to have a chance to use this incredible space to create one of the most visually unique and exciting retail stores in the world,” Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris said in a 2012 press release. “We have assembled a team of remarkably talented artists and craftsmen to work on this project. We believe it’ll be one of the most dramatic retail stores ever created.”
Along with city officials, Bass Pro has long told Memphis-area customers that the store will be worth the wait—and it was quite a long one. The Memphis Pyramid first opened in 1991 as a 20,000-seat athletic event center and was at one point the home court for the University of Memphis men’s basketball program, and later the Memphis Grizzlies. When the Grizzlies left for the FedExForum in 2004, the pyramid hosted sporadic events but was mostly left vacant. According to the Springfield News-Leader, speculation that Bass Pro was interested in the location first surfaced in 2005, and the company reached an agreement with the city in 2008 to develop the abandoned structure. After exhaustive negotiation, Bass Pro Shops signed a 55-year lease for the pyramid in 2010 and shortly after took over construction, which took three years of renovations in addition to the retrofitting done by the city.
The Memphis Pyramid is the sixth largest pyramid in the world, coming after structures such as the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. It is slightly taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Article edited 4-30-2015 for spelling.
You can watch a short time lapse of construction below: