Memphis is a city of soul, as the legendary home of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll on America’s mighty Mississippi River. With both strong homage to its deep-rooted history and a commitment to ongoing revitalization, the city of Memphis is a perfect blend of past, present and future. Also referred to as “river city on the rise”, Memphis has invested more than $20B into the city over the past several years, including a fully transformed convention center, recently unveiled upgrades at Memphis International Airport, booming hotel inventory and the growth of indoor sports facilities across the destination.
Memphis is highly accessible, serving as the gateway between the Midwest, Southeast and the North. The area is easily drivable for sports teams, and the airport offers 30+ direct flights for those flying. The city itself is compact as well, with 60+ attractions, several state-of-the-art sports facilities for every age group, and thousands of hotel rooms all within a few mile radius. Visitors can stroll down Beale Street, head over to the riverfront, check out immersive museums, and try 100-plus authentic barbecue joints without having to venture outside the city.
About Memphis Tourism
With an experienced team that offers above and beyond white-glove service, the Memphis Sports Council is a one-stop-shop for sports planners. The Memphis Sports Council connects planners to facilities and the Memphis community at large, whether it be in helping build events from scratch, or in facilitating logistics for large events by connecting groups with local officials and permitting. The events that come to Memphis return to Memphis thanks to the true care and commitment of the Memphis Tourism team.
“We are the one-stop-shop intermediary between all the key players of Memphis, from the hotel and restaurant industries to the local police for permitting needs. We have all the connections and contacts for the event organizer to have a smooth event. We know how to get things done and we have the experience and track record to show that.”– JJ Greer, Director of Sports & Events at Memphis Tourism
Memphis Sports and Events Center (MESC) at Liberty Park – Opening in December 2022, the Memphis Sports and Events Center (MESC) will be a 227,000 square foot state-of-the-art indoor multipurpose facility. MESC boasts 16 basketball courts, which can be converted to 32 volleyball courts. The courts can also be easily converted for other sports including wrestling, gymnastics, cheerleading, and futsal. 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.
Renasant Convention Center – The Renasant Convention Center in downtown Memphis has just undergone an impressive $200 million renovation, featuring the region’s largest flexible 118,000 square foot column-free exhibit hall. The riverfront venue is complete with 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 Memphis.
P7 Sports Academy – In the Memphis suburb of Cordova, the newly opened P7 Sports Academy provides yet another standout indoor venue option in the area. The 45,000 square-foot facility boasts 5 basketball courts that can be converted to 8 volleyball courts and a performance training area. “P7 Sports Academy is already hosting the biggest brands out there. It is a major player in the city and another one that is brand-new,” Greer notes.
Leftwich Tennis Center – Memphis is set to open the largest tennis complex in the region. Scheduled to open July 2023, the Leftwich Tennis Center will offer a world-class tennis experience and the ability to house both indoor and outdoor events. As a partnership between the University of Memphis, the City of Memphis and Tennis Memphis, the facility was built from the ground-up and will house the University of Memphis Tennis Team, the American Athletic Conference Tennis Championship and USTA events.
As the city of Memphis opens and renovates such an impressive array of sports facilities, each of these standout spots will be actively booking events for 2023 and beyond. Reach out to the Memphis Sports Council today to get on the calendar!
Annual & Upcoming Events
Memphis Metro Volleyball Events – Each year, the Memphis Metro Volleyball club program hosts the Memphis Challenge tournament. In 2021, the event brought 280 teams that competed across 20 courts. The Metro Volleyball events have produced both college and Olympic athletes in the past. “We have hosted Metro Volleyball for the last ten years, and that brings in close to 7,200 room nights. It produces quite a bit of attendees coming in from several states. That is going to be one of the first events the MESC hosts in January 2023 and it’s a three-weekend event,” Malvin Gipson, Executive VP of Sales, Sports & Convention Services shares.
St. Jude Memphis Marathon – In the largest single-day fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, headquartered in downtown Memphis, 26,000 runners take to the streets of Memphis. “This is one of the largest marathons in the country. It brings 26,000 runners and 40,000 participants total. That has been held every year for the past several decades. We work very closely with St. Jude to make the event successful,” Greer says. The 2022 St. Jude Memphis Marathon was successfully held on Saturday, December 3rd and raised over $12 million.
St. Jude IronMan 70.3 Memphis – Each October, the city of Memphis hosts the St. Jude IronMan 70.3 Memphis, the half IronMan Triathlon at Shelby Farms Park, one of the country’s largest urban parks that sits right in the heart of Memphis. “Our team helped IronMan build the event from scratch, from introducing the organizers to the venue, to getting permitting for the event, and connecting the group to the hotel and restaurant communities,” Greer shares. Next year’s IronMan will be held on October 7, 2023.
Liberty Bowl & the Southern Heritage Classic at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium – Approaching its 34th year, the Southern Heritage Classic is an annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities football classic. Held at the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, Tennessee State University and the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff will take the field this year on September 9, 2023. Also at the Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, the annual historic Liberty Bowl is held between the SEC and Big 12 Conferences. The 64th AutoZone Liberty Bowl took place on December 28th, 2022.
FedEx St. Jude Championship – The FedEx St. Jude Championship is an annual PGA TOUR event held at TPC Southwind in Memphis. “We are one of four locations to host that event with 70+ players now. It’s the best of the best that is coming into Memphis and TPC Southbend,” Gipson notes.
The Memphis Experience
As the birthplace of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll, and one of the barbecue capitals of the world, the Memphis experience is vibrant and historic, with something to discover at every corner. Many of the greats, including Elvis Presley, BB King, and Jerry Lewis perfected their craft on Beale Street. The city’s extensive music history can be seen (and heard!) in the restaurants and museums dotting its scenic streets.
There are plenty of family-friendly live music options, even on Beale Street! Try B.B. King’s Blues Club for lunch or an early dinner to hear the genres that made Memphis famous. To experience the barbecue staples, check out Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous or Central BBQ downtown. The city is also known for its soul food and family-friendly favorites. For soul food, try the historic Four Way Grill, Alcenia’s or Gus’ Fried Chicken. Family-friendly, local burger spots like Huey’s and Dyer’s are especially popular with traveling teams.
Things to Do
Music, museums, and experiences – Discovering Memphis’ rich music history is a must for visitors. Head to Elvis Presley’s Graceland for the ultimate Elvis experience – tour the Graceland mansion, Elvis Presley’s Memphis at Graceland, a 200,000 square foot entertainment complex, and check out Elvis’ airplane, the Lisa Marie. Next, explore the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Located at the original Stax Records headquarters, the museum offers an immersive look into the birthplace of soul music. Of course, also check out the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum created by the Smithsonian Institution to learn all about rock ‘n’ soul music from the 1930s to today.
The National Civil Rights Museum and other Black history sites – Memphis tells a critical chapter in our country’s civil rights story. The National Civil Rights Museum provides a moving, educational experience that covers five centuries of Civil Rights history. Be sure to carve out enough time to stop by additional Black history sites, including the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum and the “I Am a Man” Plaza. “These sites offer teams an educational piece alongside the entertainment they’ll appreciate in Memphis,” Gipson shares. Click here for a full list of sites.
Memphis Zoo – Close to downtown, the Memphis Zoo is a perfect family outing for all ages. With plenty of special seasonal events as well as discounted group rates, this is an easy, fun option for your sports group.
Riverboat tours and river paddling excursions – To experience Memphis from the water, try out a scenic Memphis Riverboat tour with the family. The tours leave right from Beale Street so you can hop on and off right from town. For a more adventurous excursion, book a kayak rental with Kayak Memphis. Whether you’d like to head out on your own or follow a group-guided tour, they’ve got you covered.
Arriving to and maneuvering around the city of Memphis is simple. In addition to new sports facility offerings, including the new Memphis Sports and Events Center, the city of Memphis has also made major upgrades at the Memphis International Airport. The city has implemented multimillion dollar investments into the airport over the past three years and is gearing up to add an additional concourse, all to improve accessibility and the visitor experience. The airport is just a fifteen minute drive from downtown Memphis and several of the city’s top-tier facilities.
The city also has a new proliferation of hotel inventory. The downtown area currently boasts a range of big-name hotel properties and plenty of top-notch boutique hotel options. Memphis will also be opening additional hotel properties that will add several hundred hotel room options in the downtown area. Between 2020 and 2022, 2,000 new hotel rooms opened in Memphis, and more than 6,000 additional rooms are in various stages of development through 2026.
“I cannot speak highly enough about JJ and the support of Memphis Sports Council for our St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis event. Since inception, they have been crucial in creating & maintaining relationships that make our event successful – from connections with local athletes & businesses, to law enforcement and sponsors – we truly could not host this event without them. I know whenever I go to JJ with something he and his team will do everything in their power to assist.
Working as a cohesive team, we have successfully showcased the unmatched southern hospitality to thousands of athletes from all over the world. We are incredibly excited to continue this partnership with Memphis Sports Council and continue to see our event grow together!”Erika Larsen, Race Director, IRONMAN®
“We have hosted events in Memphis for a few years now, and it never fails to leave a good impression! The staff at both the Memphis Sports Council and the Renasant Convention Center are responsive, receptive, quick to adapt when problems arise, and willing to help whenever possible. It’s also great that the city has an incredible amount of restaurants, attractions and shops, all within a short walking distance. I would highly recommend hosting your next event in Memphis!”Erin Thetford, Director of Marketing and Communications, United Futsal™
To learn more, or to inquire about hosting your next event in Memphis, visit their Playeasy profile here!
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