- One of the largest pyramids in the world is a Bass Pro Shops megastore in Memphis, Tennessee.
- The pyramid also hosts a hotel, indoor swamp, and bowling alley.
- However, for roughly a decade, the pyramid was empty – and some believed it was cursed due to a crystal skull installed by the owner of the Rainforest Café.
The pyramid has long captured the human imagination, with people traveling far and wide to view the architectural wonders that spring up from the sands of Egypt.
But to see one of the biggest pyramids on the planet, Americans don’t need to leave the country – they can just travel to Tennessee and visit a Bass Pro Shops.
In 2015, Memphis’ 321-foot-tall “Great American Pyramid” reopened as a Bass Pro Shop megastore after being abandoned for roughly a decade. The 32-floor pyramid contains a hotel, an indoor swamp, and a bowling alley.
The road to opening a Bass Pro Shop in an enormous pyramid has been a rocky one. Here’s the story behind how a hunting and fishing gear store opened up shop in one of the largest pyramids in the world.
Memphis, Tennessee has a sound historical reason to want to build a pyramid. The city was named after Memphis, a city in Egypt, when it was founded in 1819.
Source: Memphis Magazine
Memphis’ “Great American Pyramid” opened its doors in 1991, after two years and $68 million spent constructing the building.
Source: The New York Times
At 321 feet, the building is a bit smaller than the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was originally 481 feet tall. It’s still pretty massive, typically ranking in the top 10 tallest pyramids in the world (exact ranking varies based on how pyramids’ sizes are measured).
- Shutterstock / Waj
Originally, the Memphis pyramid was used as an event space and sports arena, serving as the home court for the University of Memphis men’s basketball team and the Memphis Grizzlies.
However, when the new FedExForum opened nearby, the basketball teams switched home courts, and the Great American Pyramid went dark.
Memphis struggled to find a company that was willing or able to find a use for the enormous pyramid, reportedly reaching out to everyone from Six Flags to Disney.
Source: New York Times
Some Memphis residents began calling it the “Tomb of Doom,” thanks to its financial struggles and a rumor that a crystal skull had been stored in the apex. According to myth, the skull had been disturbed, unleashing years of bad luck.
The Hard Rock Café founder who reportedly placed the skull at the top of the pyramid told The New York Times that the dark rumors were “utter nonsense.” However, he did say he had placed “several other crystal and mystic objects” in the pyramid, as “part of the glamour and mystery and mysticism of Egypt.”
Then, a potential savior appeared: Bass Pro Shop.
After years of rumors and delays, Bass Pro Shops opened its megastore in the pyramid in 2015.
- Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops worked to make good use of the space.
In addition to a shop selling fishing and hunting wares, the pyramid now has a man-made swamp …
… a 13-lane, ocean-themed bowling alley …
… and an aquarium.
Visitors can stay overnight at the Big Cypress Lodge, a 103-room hotel that the company describes as the “first hotel inside any Bass Pro Shops.”
Source: Bass Pro Shops
The pyramid also has an observation deck. If you pay $10, you can head to the 28th floor and look out over Memphis.
- Bass Pro Shop Pyramid
The pyramid regularly hosts fishing tournaments and other events.
- Bass Pro Shops Pyramid
Many who drive by the pyramid and see the Bass Pro Shops logo embossed upon it may be baffled. However, it seems to be working out well for Bass Pro Shops — the company reported $46.7 million in sales in the second year of business in the pyramid.
Source: Commercial Appeal