Johnny Morris Throws Epic Party as Pyramid Doors Open

Johnny Morris knows how to throw a party. And if the world wasn’t aware before, they should be after the massive Grand Opening for Bass Pro Shops new Pyramid store.

Bass Pro Shops is known for creating destination retail stores. Their headquarters in Springfield, Mo., is by some measures the most visited tourist attraction in that state. This week, Bass Pro Shops opened the doors to what they hope will become the top retail destination in Tennessee. To do that, they’ve raised the destination retail bar in the city that houses Graceland, Beale Street, the birthplace of the blues and the home of rock n’ roll—Memphis.

Fishing Tackle Retailer was on-site for a behind-the-scenes look before the doors opened. The ribbon cutting ceremony featured a plethora of outdoor celebrities—Morris, Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston, Tony Stewart, Ernie Brown Jr., “The Turtle Man,” and a laundry list of others—gathered under the shadow of the Memphis Pyramid to fulfill what Dance called “truly a dream come true.”

Here’s a look at the scene, which featured alligators, rumbling NASCAR vehicles, a man twirling fire and Flying Elvii.(You can click each image for a larger look.)

Bass Pro’s Grand Opening at the Pyramid was centered around An Evening for Conservation, at which 50 percent of every dollar spent at the store went to support conservation groups in the Mid-South.

The sheer scale of the store is difficult to grasp. Even Bass Pro veterans and vendors who had been to “every one of his stores” found Morris’s latest creation to be awe-inspiring. At over 300 feet tall, the Bass Pro Shops Pyramid is at its heart a revival of the former Great American Pyramid, which opened in 1991. In a previous life, the pyramid was a 20,000-plus seat basketball arena that housed the University of Memphis Tigers and the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. However, after those tenants moved to a new arena on Beale Street in 2005, the pyramid sat idle for a decade.

Some customers could be seen gazing at the ceiling, trying to place themselves at center court of the former arena. Most locals rattled off a list of concerts they had once seen in the Pyramid, covering artists from Prince to Bob Seger and Incubus.

Now, Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops have given the former arena an adventurous new life. In the above gallery, you can see glimpses of the massive indoor cypress swamp (within which lurk giant sturgeon and alligator gar), a general store, aquarium, bowling alley, alligator pit, the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Museum, a world-class restaurant and hotel space.

We can attest that the bowling alley is already in working order, though my bowling game was no match for the venue.

See what Johnny Morris has cooked up now this week at FTR

Posted by Fishing Tackle Retailer on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

At the ribbon cutting, Morris blamed Bill Dance for “stirring all this up” in his hometown of Memphis. Now, we’ll see if customers will pony up for a trip to the Bluff City and a look at Bass Pro’s mega-creation.

What do you think of the Pyramid? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.