Sunday, October 18, 1992

Pyramid Dreams: Pyramid Schemes: Cast of Characters

Commercial Appeal
By Colin Ruthven

(Main article starts here)

1. Sidney Shlenker. Controlled the day-to-day management of The Pyramid Companies as president and majority owner. Under Shlenker, the company took on responsibility for managing the taxpayers' arena in April 1989 and making millions of dollars' of additions. Also controlled city-owned Mud Island.

2. John Burton Tigrett. Recognized as the father of the pyramid project. Lobbied for tax dollars to build the project with commitment of private investment. Recruited Shlenker, then became minority owner and chairman of company resulting from their partnership.

3. O. Gene Bicknell. Chairman and majority owner of National Pizza Co. Company committed millions to project as sponsor and concessionaire. Bicknell evolved as possible replacement to Shlenker.

4. Isaac Burton Tigrett. Hard Rock Cafe co-founder and John Tigrett's son. Original signator on a deal requiring a minimum of $10 million private investment in the pyramid.

5. Dean Bonham. President of a Denver sports marketing firm responsible for selling $44 million in sponsorships and concession deals for the project.

6. A. Jerrold Perenchio. Wealthy Hollywood mogul and friend of both Tigrett and Shlenker. Responsible for introducing the two in late 1988.

7. James Goldsmith. British billionaire and longtime friend of John Tigrett. Controlled General Oriental Investments Ltd., whose stock figured prominently in the pyramid deal. Reputed source of a $1 million loan to the project.

8. Dick Hackett. Former Memphis mayor. Heavily involved from the outset because of the use of city funds in project. Defeated for re-election by W. W. Herenton in October 1991.

9. Bill Morris. Shelby County mayor. Heavily involved from the outset of the deal in 1987 because millions of county tax dollars were invested in construction of the pyramid.

10. Walter Richards. Chief financial officer, The Pyramid Companies. Followed Shlenker from a Houston investment firm to the Denver Nuggets, then to Memphis.

11. Marshall Criss. Chief operating officer and general counsel, The Pyramid Companies. Initially involved as John Tigrett's lawyer.

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