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Beale Street Visitors Greeted With Security Fee

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) -- A new policy in downtown Memphis could cost you money and cost merchants late night revenue. Early Sunday morning, the iconic street instituted a new policy: a special event cover charge to step onto Beale Street.

Visitors arriving at midnight had to pay $10 to get past the security check point and onto Beale Street. The 'security fee' paid for 23 extra security officers.

By Sunday afternoon, word spread to visitors who said they wouldn't mind paying.

"It's $10, you go to any night club, there's always some sort of cover charge," noted Monique Brown.

Alfred Brown added, "We traveled a long way, so $10 in Memphis wouldn't be much for us."

Either way, merchants say this is only the beginning of changes they plan to make to keep Beale Street a safe place for everyone.

Richard Carnell Allen II was on Beale on Saturday night. He and a group visiting from out of town arrived just after midnight and to their surprise, the were greeted with a $10 cover charge.

"It was different. Never been in a situation where I had to pay to get on the street and then pay to get in a bar, but it was alright. It was worth it," said Carnell.

The fee is only half of the plan the merchants chose to put in place. They also agreed to close the gates at 2:30 a.m. and close their businesses at 3 a.m.

"That was on our own, we made all these decisions on our own. We don't want to be like those guys standing around that guy last week and not do anything, or we're just as guilty," said Ty Agee, Beale Street Merchants Association.

He's referring to when a man was found unconscious and bleeding from the head as dozens of people stood around him, recording with their cell phones.

It was that incident that prompted action from Beale Street vendors and Memphis police, but it came at a cost -- for everyone.

"It cost a lot of merchants a lot of money last night. We didn't do this for any other reason except to make it better," added Agee.

He says Club 152 and Flynn's, both popular late night spots, lost thousands of dollars for the sake of safety, making this a decision that received mixed reviews Saturday into Sunday.

"Give us a chance to sort this out. That's all we're asking," noted Agee.

Agee noted that at this point they are only charging the security fee on Saturdays, though the time may change. He also added that they will continue to monitor everything and possibly make more changes in the future.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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