With the start of training camp, the Memphis Grizzlies are inviting fans from all over the South to visit The Grindhouse this season.
The success of the last few years has cemented the Grizzlies in the hearts of Memphians. But now the Grizzlies organization is hoping to get the entire region on board, traveling to places like Little Rock, St. Louis, Nashville, and both Jacksons in Tennessee and Mississippi to attract new fans.
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Monday was Grizzlies Media Day to kick off the 2013-14 season and the FedExForum was packed with reporters, most of whom were from Memphis.
The NBA club is hoping soon the fanbase will cover the entire region. The Grizzlies organization traveled the region in recent weeks with superstars in tow
"That was really about an opportunity to get away and be together, an opportunity to do it in a city that loves the Grizzlies," said Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien. "The ratings have been very strong. There's been strong interest in the team and we want to connect the Grizzlies even more."
The Greater Memphis Chamber studied the Grizzlies and Paul Morris of the Downtown Memphis Commission said the annual impact is more than $223 million.
If the team's fanbase grows, it can only mean good things for Memphis, specifically downtown.
"The impact on downtown of the Grizzlies is enormous from a direct financial impact," Morris said. "But also the Grizzlies have a big impact on the brand for Memphis in general."
At each stop on the Grizzlies regional tour, fans could win a weekend trip to Memphis, including tickets to a game.
The Grizzlies hope to make new fans of the team and new fans of the city of Memphis as well.
"We want to have people stay overnight, spending the whole weekend, going to Grizzlies games, from eastern Arkansas or north Mississippi," Morris said. "Make a weekend of it."