As major cities around the country keep building new arenas and stadiums, the question that always presents itself is what to do with that “old” arena or stadium, keeping in mind that many of these structures aren’t even 20 years old.
The city of Memphis faced one of the dilemmas when the Memphis Pyramid was left vacant after hosting, NBA and NCAA Tournament basketball games, sold-out professional wresting events and concerts featuring the biggest names in music.
While is served as a venue for one of Memphis’ largest churches in the 2000s, it wasn’t until Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and owner of the sprawling Big Cedar Lodge, a wilderness resort in Missouri’s Ozark Mountains came in to make things happen on a grand scale.
Big Cypress Lodge
Complementing the aforementioned Big Cedar Lodge, Memphis’ Big Cypress Lodge is a one-of-a-kind hotel and attraction located in the iconic Memphis Pyramid, and now called Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid.
The best way to describe Big Cypress Lodge, is it’s an “experience within an experience.”
Picture a wilderness hotel inside the Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in downtown Memphis. The hotel takes over the second and third floors and looks upon the vibrant Bass Pro Shops retail and lifestyle areas on the ground floor.
Rooms are designed with the outdoors in mind with guest suites that resemble vintage log cabins. No detail is missed as guests also enjoy access to a fitness center and spa.
“Developing the store has been a tremendous undertaking and represents the largest investment we’ve ever made, not only financially but in terms of time, energy and effort, in a retail store anywhere outside our national headquarters in Springfield, Missouri,” Bass Pro Shops Founder and CEO Johnny Morris said. “We are optimistic that what our team is collectively creating will set a new benchmark as a national, must-see retail, hotel, conservation and entertainment destination experience.”
Coming to Memphis? Big Cypress Lodge offers 103 rustic-elegant and well designed rooms.
Experience treehouse rooms, duck cabins, fly fishing lodges, junior suites, governor’s suite and hospitality suite overlook the Pyramid’s vast cypress and indoor wetlands. All rooms feature interior or exterior views, elegant cabin-style décor and handcrafted furnishings, an electric fireplace, and a spa-like bathroom with jetted bathtub and separate glass-enclosed shower.
Even though you are indoors, every room or suite comes with a private screened-in porch with rocking chairs that overlook the ground level. Each room comes with a view – whether of historic Memphis and the surrounding landscape or of the exciting interior wilderness world.
If experiencing the outdoors gets you hungry, Big Cypress Lodge offers dining and bar options that offer the best local and continental cuisine and specialty cocktails for every palate, in nature-inspired settings:
Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill
Located on the ground floor, Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill serves American favorites with a truly unique atmosphere and design, as well as a centerpiece bar and 13-lane, ocean themed bowling alley.
The Lookout at the Pyramid
Located on the top level of the Pyramid, this full service bar features specialty drinks and offers indoor and outdoor seating along with glass observation decks and panoramic views of the Memphis skyline and Mississippi River. A massive circular 10,000 gallon catfish aquarium commands the middle of the restaurant.
Large gathering, meetings and conferences will love the four conference rooms and patio space on the property.
Big Cypress Lodge Fast Facts
– Ten aquariums with 600,000 gallons of water, teeming with more than 1,800 fish
– Central glass elevator that is the country’s tallest free-standing elevator
– Largest assortment of waterfowl and related hunting equipment ever assembled and a wide selection of quality sporting gear to meet all outdoor needs
– 25-yard live fire pistol and archery ranges
– New Ducks Unlimited National Waterfowling Heritage Center, an interactive wetlands and waterfowl education museum that will showcase the
Don’t forget about Bass Pro Shops.
A massive wilderness-inspired retail and lifestyle space sprawls over the ground level and half of the second floor of the Pyramid. Think of it as a Bass Pro Shops that is almost a theme park. Morris knows retail and he proves that with the options at Big Cypress Lodge.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said he’s been fortunate to have a person like Johnny Morris and his team giving the Memphis Pyramid a new life.
“Johnny was the 2008 National Retail Innovator of the Year, and is kinda like the Walt Disney of retail as far as creating exciting customer experiences and environments. It’s been fun to work with Johnny and the remarkable Bass Pro Shops team to make sure that every detail—from the signature decor of the Big Cypress Lodge to the 84,000-gallon alligator pond habitat—will create a uniquely immersive experience that will launch the Pyramid as a national tourist destination.”
Hats off to Morris and officials in the city of Memphis for making this happen. An arena that was all but left for dead has been rescued, repurposed and brought back as a reason to come to Memphis and experience all that it offers.
Visit Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri, Big Cypress Lodge in Memphis and your local Bass Pro Shops this summer and fall. Now all year round, visitors can experience the outdoors while indoors thanks to Johnny Morris.
See what Big Cypress Lodge is all about at www.big-cypress.com at1-800-BC-LODGE (225-6343)