By: Michael Lander
|The Grizzlies mascot accompanies the riders who participate in the Tour de|
Griz that will be held this year on April 4. (Photo: Courtesy of Memphis Grizzlies)
The Memphis Grizzlies are a wildly popular team that has an enormous following, with many loyal and devoted fans, and are best known for their grit and grind and their prowess on the basketball court.
Once a year, each spring, the Grizzlies organization has also found a way to combine what their team does best, which is playing a great and exciting game of basketball with another activity that Memphians are becoming increasingly passionate about and that is cycling.
This year, on Saturday, April 4, the Memphis Grizzlies will be hosting their Seventh Annual Tour de Grizz, which brings together the excitement of basketball with a 5-mile bike ride from the Memphis Zoo to the game at FedEx Forum and back.
Participants in this event receive general admission tickets to the Memphis Zoo, (good for the entire day), where they can see some four-legged grizzlies before hopping on to their bikes to see the Grizzlies basketball team take the court against the Washington Wizards.
Jason Potter, who is the director of promotion and event presentations for the Grizzlies, came up with the idea for this event, and it has quickly become one of the team’s signature events for the spring.
“I hoped it would be popular,” Potter said.
At about the time that he came up with the concept for this, it happened to coincide with the beginning development of bike lanes and trails in and around the city of Memphis.
The popularity of this event has grown as the cycling amenities in the city have expanded.
|This is a view of some of the participants in the 2014 Tour de Griz as they|
rode to the FedEx Forum for last year's game. (Photo: Courtesy of the
“We were lucky when we began…. to see an increased interest in cycling through the installation of bike lanes on the Shelby Farms Greenline and the Wolf River Greenway,” Potter said.
“The event has grown from 30 to 400 riders as of last year,” Jonathan Jones said. Jones is the Account Executive for Group Sales for the Grizzlies. “We could potentially see more than 400 participants this year,” he added.
“In what started…. as a mostly cycling crowd in the first year is now an all-ages family gathering,” Potter said.
Registration for this event runs from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. at the Memphis Zoo. The cyclists will depart at 5:00 p.m. with police escort. The cyclists will then ride 5 miles and will park on 4th Street. They will have complimentary bike valet parking at both the zoo and at the game.
The tip-off for the game will be at 7:00 p.m. and, assuming that the game does not go into overtime, it should end around 9:35 p.m. Participants can expect to wait about 30 minutes until the traffic clears out and the police escorts give the go-ahead to begin the ride back to the zoo.
Tickets for the game can be found by visiting the Grizzlies purchase page at http://tinyurl.com/Grizzlies-Tour-de-Grizz-2015. The deadline for purchasing game tickets is Friday, March 27.
Participants in the Tour de Grizz will need to type “MEMPHIS” into the Special Offer Code box and click verify. If you already have an account, you can use your email address and password. If not, you need to go to “Create an Account.”
|The Grizzlies organization has not only hosted the Tour de Griz for the past|
six years, but they have also had volunteers working in other cycling
events like a benefit for Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in October 2010.
Ticket package options include the Terrace Level at a cost of $35 per ticket or $75 for the First TN Club ticket. All ticket sales are final and there are no refunds if the bike ride is cancelled because of weather.
Participants in this event should email Jonathan Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get either a small, medium, large, or extra-large t-shirt.
Because it is 5-miles each way from the Memphis Zoo to the FedEx Forum and back, it is recommended that only those who are 10 years of age and up try to participate in this ride.
Those who do ride must wear helmets and they must have lights on their bikes. Anyone who doesn't have both of these things will not be permitted to participate in the ride.
Anyone who's already purchased a ticket for the April 4 game can also join in on the ride by either calling (901) 205-1436 or by going to grizzlies.com.
The Tour de Grizz is a perfect opportunity for Grizzlies fans, who also happen to be cyclists, to enjoy an evening of seeing their team play and getting in a bike ride as well.
This year’s team is looking strong under the team’s majority owner, Robert Pera, General Manager, Chris Wallace, and Head Coach, Dave Joerger.
The Grizzlies have made it to the conference semi-finals in 2010-2011 and to the conference finals in 2012-2013, but lost that season to the San Antonio Spurs.
Many of the team’s die-hard fans are hoping that this will be the year that they advance to the NBA playoffs, and this year’s Tour de Grizz event may be a way to see the team that makes it, bringing the first NBA championship to our river city.