The Latest On The BirmingDome

Except it’s now an arena. Not a dome. An arena.

Anyway, the latest plan is for a 40,000 seat dome, er, arena. The BJCC board and the local chieftans – JeffCo County Commission chair Bettye Fine Collins and B’ham Mayor Bernard Kincaid – settled on that number at some retreat last weekend.

But the rest of the local powers aren’t so enthusiastic. In fact, it sounds like the compromise has only made things worse for the dome, as folks who are generally dome proponents oppose this new mini-Dome:

Commissioner Larry Langford, who said last week he was “for anything that would move this community forward,” said Monday he opposes the plan after learning the details.

“When I realized that this stadium would not accommodate the Magic City Classic and they are not even planning on building the building in such a way that it can be expanded in the future, I won’t support it,” he said.

I think the whole dome idea is a delusional waste of money. The Tide is gone, they ain’t coming back. The Iron Bowl is gone, it ain’t coming back. The SEC championship is gone, it ain’t coming back. The NBA is not coming. Neither is the NFL. UAB football will never outdraw Hoover High School. There is just no need for a Dome.

But if we’re gonna throw away funds on hopeless dreams, let’s at least dream big. That seems to be the opinion of the Tuscaloosa News:

In cutting down the size of the project, planners have sheared off millions of dollars in costs. But they’ve also sheared off a lot of the project’s potential.

The domed stadium’s cost last year was projected at more than $500 million. By comparison, the indoor arena’s cost is estimated at $380 million.

A 40,000-seat arena might be fine in some respects. It could host high school football games, and the city’s new Bowl would be a comfortable fit. The University of Alabama at Birmingham could play its football games there and still be swallowed up by the size of the arena.

However, a 40,000-seat arena isn’t big enough to accommodate the Southeastern Conference football championship contest.

It is too small to host Birmingham’s annual Magic City Classic football game. And no NFL franchise would even think about locating in a city with such a pint-sized arena.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the proposed arena cannot be expanded once it’s constructed.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the News’ conclusion about the financing for the project:

Right now, the debate over the project is mostly local. So is talk about finances.

Advocates say there is enough city and county tax revenue to finance the project, barring a climb in interest rates.

However, state Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, says he expects support from the state for the expansion.

Again, Birmingham and Jefferson County can do as they please. But we’d rather not see state tax dollars spent on this questionable project. We don’t see much of a future in the new small-minded approach.

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5 Comments on “The Latest On The BirmingDome”

  1. Dystopos Says:

    The NBA is not out of the question, assuming it makes the mistake of further diluting the league to try to win more fans. Memphis was no more promising the Birmingham for a franchise.

    I can envision some events that would fit well in a 40,000 seat arena (depending on how it was set up). A Final Four, a Billy Graham crusade, a Stones concert, A political convention, a monster truck pull…it would certainly fit UAB’s program and the arena league.

    But it’s hardly the best option for any of them (except potentially the final four or NBA). And that’s the problem. If you’re a two-person family and you never plan to have kids, but you need to get around, then buy a civic. If you’ve got two kids and two more on the way, buy a van. But don’t buy a Mazda 5 just because you can’t afford a van.

  2. The problems they’ll experience aren’t just with financing. I happen to know from a very good source that the folks who work in Birmingham PEP detest the idea of a domed stadium and will do whatever they can to delay the project as much as possible.

  3. […] to have some people who have some money and who want to build a real dome in B’ham. Not the mini-Dome, but a real 70k plus seatDome. Sounds great, right? B’ham gets the Dome but doesn’t […]

  4. Dystopos Says:

    OK, I give up. What’s PEP?

  5. […] blog Alablawg says what the Wolfe family long agreed upon: I think the whole dome idea is a delusional waste of […]

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