The Pyramid Arena, initially known as the Great American Pyramid was originally built as a 20,142-seat arena located in downtown Memphis at the banks of the Mississippi River. The facility was built in 1991 and was originally owned and operated jointly by the city of Memphis and Shelby County; Shelby County sold its share to Memphis in April 2009.
Its unique structure plays on the city's namesake in Egypt, known for its ancient pyramids. It is 321 feet (98m, about 32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 ft; it is by some measures the seventh largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza (456 ft), Khafre's Pyramid (448 ft), Luxor Hotel (348 ft), the Red Pyramid (341 ft), the Bent Pyramid (332 ft), both in Dahshur and the Shard London Bridge. It is also slightly (about 16 feet) taller than the Statue of Liberty. A statue of Ramesses the Great stood in front of the pyramid, which was created from a mold of the actual statue in Egypt. In 2011, this statue was leased to the University of Memphis for the cost of $1 and was moved to the campus in April 2012.
Various former uses and events :
- It was the home court for the University of Memphis men's basketball program, and later for the National Basketball Association's Memphis Grizzlies. However, both teams left The Pyramid in November 2004 to move into the newly built FedExForum.
- The arena hosted the 1993 Great Midwest Conference Men's and Women's basketball tournaments, the 1994 and 1997 Southeastern Conference men's basketball tournament, the 1996 and 2000 Conference USA men's basketball tournament, and the 2003 Conference USA women's basketball tournament. It also held the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in 1995, 1997, and 2001.
- The Pyramid was the site of the WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre: In Your House pay-per-view, in 1999.
- It also hosted the boxing mega-fight between Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson in 2002, which Lewis won by a knockout in the eighth round.
- Filmmaker Craig Brewer used the building as a sound stage for his film Black Snake Moan in late 2005.
- From 2002 to 2006, the annual Church of God in Christ international holy convocations were held here.
- The arena has hosted many concerts, by famous artists of many different genres.
- In 2002, the arena hosted a concert, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.
- Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band performed what is reputed to be the last concert ever in the Pyramid, on February 3, 2007.