Construction underway at Liberty Park

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mary Claire Borys said the Liberty Park project has been a dream for the city since 2005.

Now, it’s closer to becoming a reality.

“We may have renamed it Liberty Park, but we are putting the fun from the old-fashioned fairgrounds back into this site,” Borys said.

After getting approval from the state Monday, construction officially started Tuesday.

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The first task is the Memphis Sports and Events Center, a 227,000 square foot building big enough for eight basketball courts, 6 volleyball courts, and space large enough to host track and field competitions.

Borys, an administrator for the city’s housing and community development division, said this will be huge for Memphis and the surrounding area.

“There is nothing like the Memphis Sports and Event Center anywhere in the entire region for about 600 miles,” she said. “This is the type of facility that you see in Florida at ESPN’s Sports Center. You see it in Virginia Beach or California or Dallas.”

The $126 million project also includes upgrades to the Liberty Bowl, smaller community projects, and an 18-acre mixed-use development along Central Avenue.

Borys said the city has letters of intent to build a family entertainment center, hotels, restaurants, and apartments.

“This will benefit the city in terms of we’ll have kids who are able to play here, adults that will be able to play here, and bringing a million visitors a year to the city of Memphis,” she said.