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Focus on the FedEx Forum

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MEMPHIS, Tennessee (WMC) – As for the things we love about Memphis, FedEx Forum ranks among the top as the premier sports and entertainment facility in the Mid-South.

Basketball is king at the FedEx Forum, whether it’s the Grizzlies or the Memphis Tigers, or college basketball tournaments.

“There are times when we do two basketball games on the same day and we have to change the pitch from a Tigers game to a Grizzlies game,” said Dwight Johnson, vice president of operations at the arena.

Other times, sneakers are ditched for skates as hardwood turns into hard ice for hockey teams and Disney dancers. Even professional riders receive star treatment.

“It’s amazing to walk here seeing a dumpster dumping dirt, load after load, load after load,” Johnson said. “After that we have to clean everything and there is dirt everywhere. So for the next day we clean up, but weeks later we see dirt and we clean up new areas, saying, man, how did that dirt get to this place? “(

When WWE arrives twice a year, the entire building transforms into a soundstage and studio.

“You know it’s a full TV production, so they have TV trucks, satellite trucks, and most of the athletes driving themselves. So the bottom loading dock is a real joy with all kinds of rental cars, ”said Jeff Olson, Director of Reservations.

Opened in 2004, the FedEx Forum is located on 14 acres of land in downtown, on one of America’s most iconic streets, Beale Street, the homeland of the blues.

“It is Memphis’s premier sports and entertainment center for entertainment,” Johnson said.

The forum design pays homage to the city’s musical heritage starting from the front. These 24 kiosks in front of the forum are in fact an art installation called “The Roots of Memphis Music“, and it is dedicated to the history of black music in Memphis. You can even scan a QR code on it to learn more about historical moments and musicians.

The interior is adorned with paintings and murals by some of the city’s most famous artists, guitar-shaped arcades, and music-themed restaurants.

“One of the perks of working here at the FedEx Forum is working with all the great bands we have coming up,” Olson said.

The stories behind the scenes are as thrilling as the performers on stage, like the time thunderstorms delayed Lionel Richie’s flight to Memphis for his 2014 concert.

“And CeeLo Green got on stage and was playing and we’re all like, he’s not here, he’s not here,” Olson recalled. “Finally, we found out he was in a private plane so he took off and we found out he was on his way. So MPD helped us with a little police escort, brought him here. He drove with the police, jumped out of the car. I think he liked a quick photo with a few people and then literally walked right onto the stage. “

Mid-South native Justin Timberlake came to the forum in 2019.

“This was one of the biggest tours we’ve had at the FedEx Forum in terms of production,” said Olson. “So, you know, we have 175 machinists, we have, you know, a few hundred other people working. I think they had 13 buses and 28 trailers for this tour.

None of this would be possible without the hard work of hundreds of FedEx Forum employees in customer service, conversion and concessions.

“Our staff, we have about 40 full-time people, but for part-time workers it could go anywhere from 300 to 500 depending on the event,” Johnson said.

Every day there is a new challenge, but with coordination, planning and communication everything is done and on time.

Seeing 17,000 people having a great time and knowing that you helped put it together is a great feeling and keeps you coming back and working hard, ”said Olson.

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