Finally, a City Council member suggested the obvious: tenants for Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium should help pay for the $7.6 million in upgrades that they will benefit from.

Savvy Council member Jim Strickland, after listening to labored justifications for a new home locker room, moving the visitor’s locker room, a new room for officials and some ADA improvements, sent an encouraging signal that business as usual is dying a quick death with the new Council.

He suggested that the two organizations who accrue the benefits of the new, improved arena should consider helping pay for them.

Here’s the magic number: $500,000 a year. That’s the amount that’s needed to pay the yearly bond payment for the improvements.

After all, the University of Memphis’ athletic department budget is north of $25 million a year. The Liberty Bowl Festival Association regularly rings up $6 million in revenues, and we’re told that it recorded a $2 million fund balance in 2007, all while paying about $1.7 million a year in “management fees.”

The Liberty Bowl Festival Association reports to the IRS that its purpose is “to promote the social and economic welfare of the Mid-South and its citizens.” We think it could do precisely that if it helped pay for these improvements and took the burden off taxpayers.