Tag Archives: Elvis Week 2019

Searching for the Graceland Exhibition Center

Wall Street Journal Article on Graceland Trying to get Tax Breaks from Memphis

This is an article in the April 8 issue of the Wall Street Journal. The title is wrong. It should say, “EPE Pressures Memphis to Dig Deep to Keep Graceland.”

For two years EPE has been trying to get tax breaks from the city of Memphis to help pay for another $100 million in expansions. It worked four years ago when the city gave EPE $79 million in tax incentives. The timing would suggest this helped the Guest House and/or Elvis Presley’s Memphis become realities.

But it’s tougher to get the money this time. Part of the expansion EPE is doing is a 6,200 seat performance arena, and there is a dispute because of a deal the city has with the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team and the FedEx Forum where they play.

Memphis Grizzlie Blocking Elvis Taking a Basketball Shot

The Memphis Grizzlies’ have a strange lease agreement with the FedEx Forum that says city funding can’t be used for a new venue that seats more than 5,000 people and would compete with the Forum.  Why would a basketball team care about that?  FedEx is the one benefiting from this provision.

Last October, EPE filed a suit in U.S. District Court that alleged a delay in the Land Use Control Board’s consideration of the Graceland expansion plan was meant to punish EPE. Apparently that suit hasn’t been enough, so Joel Weinshanker, EPE managing partner, has thrown out the most amazing negotiating chit.

Wall Street Journal Article on Graceland Trying to get Tax Breaks from Memphis - Blow Up

What a ballsy move. He is threatening to disassemble the Graceland mansion and rebuild it in Dubai or somewhere. He’s got to know that wouldn’t work. The Guest House and Elvis Presley’s Memphis would be headed toward closure without Graceland mansion as the draw.

However, I am impressed by the move. It got lots of press in Memphis and actually might speed a resolution.


But what’s this about a 6,200 seat arena?

Graceland Expansion Projects


This picture came from memphisdailynews.com. It is the site plan EPE submitted with their application for the tax breaks. Down at the bottom center you will recognize Elvis Presley’s Memphis. The biggest building in it is the Elvis the Entertainer Career Museum. But compare that to the size of the three buildings in yellow on the left.

According to news reports, they are the 6,200-seat concert arena, an 80,000-square-foot exhibition center, and a manufacturing factory that would make tourist souvenirs, Americana crafts and other items. The factory is touted as potentially employing 1,000 people. That could be a sweetener EPE included to help get city approval.

It certainly should cause some of the companies with licenses from EPE to start worrying whether they will be renewed once Graceland gets into the souvenir making business.

Take another look at the site plan above. The oval around the top building in yellow shows my guess which one is the concert arena. I tried to blow up the picture to read the text on the buildings, but I couldn’t make them out. However, you will notice a covered entrance from the parking lot, which is a pretty good clue. There will certainly be a big announcement about the concert arena coming soon, so we’ll know where it is and what it looks like.

Similar information about the 80,000-square-foot exhibition center should come out even sooner — possibly this weekend. The reason is that in five weeks a big event will be held there.

Hallmark Wedding Weekend at Graceland

The schedule for the Hallmark Channel’s June Wedding Celebration was released earlier this week. There are big events planned for the Graceland Soundstage, the Chapel in the Woods, and in the open area of Elvis Presley’s Memphis. But there are also a number of events scheduled in something called the Hallmark Channel Lounge… located in the Graceland Exhibition Center.

These include “All Day Drop-In Activities” from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM on both days. There are also two autograph sessions each day, and a “Lucky in Love” game show hosted by D J Argo of SiriusXM Elvis Radio on Saturday. On Sunday, there is an “Early Riser Bagel and Bingo party.

This is a pretty good way to open a brand new facility. It’s coming soon, so we can expect plenty of press releases announcing the new Graceland Exhibition Center.

I first saw mention of it back in late February when the schedule for Elvis Week 2019 was announced.

Elvis Week Music Pavillion

The all-new TCB Pass for $28.75 is a very good deal, and it includes unlimited access to the Music Pavilion… located in the Graceland Exhibition Center. No more “Entertainment Tent” this year. Now you get inside air-conditioned comfort with food and beverage stations.

This early mention of the Graceland Exhibition Center caught my eye. I Googled it hoping to see a picture of what it looked like. Nothing came up. I tried on Graceland.com/news, and there was nothing there either.

I checked again today, and there are still no pictures of the Graceland Exhibition Center. That is about to change.



©  2019    Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister    All Rights Reserved    www.ElvisBlog.net


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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland  are registered trademarks of  Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.


Graceland Introduces After-Parties

Elvis Week 2019 Schedule of Events

I’ve been studying the schedule of events for Elvis Week 2019. It will be a nine-day affair, covering two weekends – Friday, August 9 through Saturday, August 17.


Now, you can imagine that most folks thinking about going to Elvis Week would prefer being there that last weekend. There’s always some pretty good events scheduled… and it’s special to be there around Graceland on the 16th , even if you don’t do the candlelight vigil.

Candlelight Procession


So, how does EPE plan to attract folks to come on those real early dates — that first weekend? A year ago, the first night’s happening was a “Special Event with Lisa Marie Presley.” I have no idea what that involved, but afterward, there was an “Exclusive Photo and Autograph Opportunity” with her. I don’t know. Maybe that did pull in a lot of folks.

But I do know that what’s coming this year on that first weekend is a winner.


Ultimate Elvis Week After-Party


They are throwing an After-Party at Elvis Presley’s Memphis on the first three nights of Elvis Week 2019. There will be cash bars and food stations along the streets. There will be a stage set up outside in front of Vernon’s Smokehouse, and according to the press release, “many of your favorite Elvis tribute artists will be jamming.”

Vernon's Smokehouse in Elvis Presley's Memphis


Sounds like a pretty good party, doesn’t it?


Inside Elvis Presley's MemphisJust imagine its night and the streets are full of people


To ensure a festive atmosphere, there will be a host named Jeff Lewis up on the stage introducing the acts and interacting with the visitors. He sent me something to acquaint you with him.

“I started the Elvis Tribute Artist jam idea back in 2012 at the Hard Rock Cafe.  I did it after the Ultimate the year Ben Portsmouth won.  It was really great seeing all the guys on stage just jamming, singing, laughing, and not taking the contest stuff too seriously, instead, they were all remembering why we were there, to celebrate Elvis and his incredible music and legacy.  It really took off from there.  We continued to have the After Parties every year at the Hard Rock.  I was so honored when EPE reached out to me and wanted to know if I’d work with them and have the parties at EPM.  I think it is really going to be cool and a lot of fun.”

I agree.  You can’t go wrong when you bring on an experienced Hard Rock Cafe party manager.  Congrats to EPE for such a good choice.

Jeff Lewis at One of His After-Parties

Jeff Lewis at One of His After-Parties


So, picture it. A big outdoor party until midnight in a closed-off mini-village called Elvis Presley’s Memphis.

Street in Elvis Presley's Memphis


I think EPE has come up with a great concept that could entice fans to come to those three early days of Elvis Week. Folks can go to the After-Parties and listen to Elvis music, hang out with friends, have drinks from the cash bars, get a late snack from street vendors, wander around and go in some stores or exhibits. I can see myself doing this and enjoying it very much.

Obviously, this is a wonderful set-up for fan clubs and other groups travelling together. How much fun would these parties be if you were there with a bunch of friends?


Okay, the After-Parties sound really good…. But what are they after?



The three nights of After-Parties are an added bonus for the fans attending the Ultimate Tribute Artist competitions or a special concert featuring former contest winners.

Friday, August 9: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Contest Semifinal Round

Saturday, August 10: Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Final Round

Sunday, August 11: The Ultimate Return

These concerts are in the Graceland Soundstage and run from 7 to 9 or so. By the time these concerts conclude, Elvis Presley’s Memphis will have closed down and all the folks have been asked to leave. Then, the Soundstage doors open, and the concert-goers pour out into the streets. The band on that outdoor stage cranks it up, and the party is on.

The Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist competitions need no explanation, but what is The Ultimate Return? Think of it as a showcase for past winners, which Graceland calls an “incredible live concert.” It will be hosted by Dean Z who won back in 2013. He will have his own solo performance the next night in the Soundstage.

Other announced performers so far include:

Shawn Klush – winner of the first competition in 2007

Cody Slaughter (2011)

Ben Thompson – title holder from last year’s 2018 competition

And the show will start with whoever is the newly crowned 2019 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist


2019 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Artist Competition


So, the only question is… what does it cost? The Semifinal Round is the cheapest at $50, $40, $30, depending how close you want to be to the stage. The Soundstage seats are on a level floor, so I wouldn’t want to be too far back. The Finals and the ETA show are ten dollars more: $60, $50, and $40.


Soundstage Seating chart

The three sections farthest from the stage are the ones priced above. The Green, white and yellow seats are reserved for people buying different kinds of ticket packages ranging from $160 to $1,500. Of course, they get to go to the After-Parties, too.

It should be noted that there are side sections of seats with similar distribution not shown here. Potential audience size could be up to 1,500 people.


So, if you pop for the best seats available on the two EPA competitions, you’d be paying $220 for you and your sweetie. If you’ve never seen these, be assured that the best of the Elvis Tribute Artists give remarkable performances. These shows are great entertainment.

For the ETA finals and the Ultimate Return concert, your cost would be $240. Compared to the ticket prices at Elvis Week last year, these are pretty good deals, and you get the After-Parties as a bonus


I’ve been to Elvis Week four times, always during the last three or four days. If I were going this year, I’d give that first weekend a try. I’d wear an ElvisBlog T-shirt at the After-Parties and see if anybody comes up and says, “Hey, I read your blog.”


Elvis Week 2019 Logo


Click here to see all the events and  ticket prices. It takes some study to grasp all the different options they offer, but at least you already know plenty about the After-Parties.



© 2019 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net


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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.