Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council voted 6-3 to commit $90 million over 30 years towards a controversial renovation of the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center and construction of the first new football stadium in over a hundred years.
The Legislature had already passed their part of the plan to fund the BJCC expansion and football field construction.
State Rep. Jack Williams, R-Vestavia, said on social media, “The Birmingham City Council has voted 6-3 to join Jefferson County, UAB and the BJCC in funding the open air stadium at the BJCC. This is a great day for Birmingham, Jefferson County and the state of Alabama.”
Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington said on social media, “Thanks to the leadership of Birmingham Mayor Woodfin, the Birmingham City Council just approved their financial commitment of $3 million a year for 30 years to the BJCC for the construction of a multi-use facility, which includes a stadium.”
The vote by the council follows last week’s vote in favor of the plan by the Alabama House of Representatives.
Alabama Senate Rules Chair Senator Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, sponsored Senate Bill 311, which was handled in the House of Representatives by Williams.
“In recent years, Birmingham has not been as competitive with other major cities in the south as we used to be,” Waggoner said. “Our legislation is a bold statement that Birmingham will again strongly compete for tourism dollars. Tourism is an important economic engine to our state and particularly to Birmingham. By final passage of Senate Bill 311, we are making a bold statement that we can and will be competitive again for tourism and convention business.”
Waggoner pointed out that just in the short-term, the expansion and modernization of the BJCC (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center) during construction is projected to generate over $325 million in economic impact, over $130 million in wages, and employ over 3,700 people.
“The upgrade and expansion of the BJCC will allow us to attract and accommodate marquee sporting events, concerts, and conventions – it’s that simple,” Waggoner noted. “Our goal has been for day one to enhance the success and long-term marketability of the BJCC as critical to economic impact and growth benefiting the Birmingham area.”
Combined with existing operations of the BJCC, the total annual economic impact generated by the operations of the BJCC will be over a quarter of a billion dollars to the Birmingham area annually, Waggoner said.
“You just have to look at the economic revitalization and transformation of Regions Field, Railroad Park and Norwood have done for the south side. Passage of Senate Bill 311 will do the same for the long-term economic impact and revitalization of neighborhoods around the BJCC,” Waggoner said.
New Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin made the convention center’s modernization and building the stadium a priority in his young administration.
Much of the day in the House was slowed down because of the Birmingham Council vote by State Representatives.
John Rogers and Mary Moore, both Birmingham Democrats, are angry because they have seen their power and influence wane in both the legislature and the city in recent years.
Moore said that no one in her neighborhood has ever benefited from any event at the BJCC.
UAB football is expected to be played at the new stadium, as will the Birmingham Bowl. The new venue will allow Birmingham to compete for events like the High School Football state Championship, the Magic City Classic, and a new professional football team with either the reborn XFL or the Alliance of American Football.
Birmingham’s $90 million would be paid out over the next 30 years. The new stadium would have 45,000 seats. The expanded coliseum would allow Birmingham to compete again for NCAA basketball tournament games, conference championship basketball games, and perhaps minor league hockey.
Williams is running for Jefferson County Commission.