Birmingham Council Supports Renaming CrossPlex for Langford, Question Parker’s Bid to Bring Oakland Raiders to Legion Field

Posted

 1458916102 
1550068013
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin

Source: Sam Prickett, BirminghamWatch

bw-logo-color-2

By Sam Prickett

Mayor Randall Woodfin and members of the Birmingham City Council announced Tuesday that they would support changing the name of the Birmingham CrossPlex to honor former Mayor Larry Langford, who died last month.

Langford spearheaded construction of the indoor track and aquatic complex in Five Points West, on which construction began in 2008. The $46 million facility opened in August 2011.

Woodfin and District 8 Councilor Steven Hoyt proposed the name change — to the Larry P. Langford Birmingham CrossPlex — during the council’s meeting Tuesday. District 9 Councilor John Hilliard, who did not arrive until later in the meeting, also has advocated for renaming the facility.

“We believe it’s fitting for all the work he did and for bringing this to life in our community,” Woodfin said.

During his statement, Hoyt alluded to Langford’s controversial reputation, which included a 2009 conviction on charges of corruption and bribery for actions he took during his time as president of the Jefferson County Commission.

“We know that, no different than Angela Davis, you have to deal with the body of people’s work,” Hoyt said, referring to the recent Birmingham Civil Rights Institute controversy. “All of us have some issues one way or the other … but when you look at this city and see the things that were done under his leadership … We are better because Larry Langford came through here.”

Hoyt said he did not expect members of the public to take issue with renaming the CrossPlex, “but if they do, they can come see me,” he said. “I’m a big boy. I can handle it.”

Langford’s widow, Melva, a Birmingham City Council employee, said that Langford would have been “excited” to know about the rename — although, she insisted, “He was not a person who liked a lot of accolades.”

An official council vote to change the CrossPlex’s name will take place at an unspecified later date.

“What Are We Committing To?”

Another west Birmingham sports venue took the spotlight at Tuesday’s meeting, as councilors expressed confusion about reports that the city was courting the Raiders NFL team to play some of next season’s home games at Legion Field.

It was reported Tuesday morning that Birmingham was partnering with Tucson, Arizona, to offer the Raiders venues to play home games while construction on the team’s new stadium in Las Vegas is being completed. The team is moving from Oakland, California, to Las Vegas.

The plan was initiated by Council President Pro Tem William Parker, who floated the idea to AL.com Feb. 8. Parker, who also is vice president of the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board, told AL.com that he had spoken to his fellow councilors and the mayor’s office about the initiative. But on Tuesday, both Woodfin and Council President Valerie Abbott said they were largely ignorant about the proposal.

Abbott expressed concern that monetary incentives were being offered to the team without the council’s knowledge.

“I haven’t found a council member who knows anything (about this),” she said. “When I saw that press release yesterday, I was like, ‘What are we committing to?’ We’re all in favor of using Legion Field (more) because we’ve made that commitment, but we need to decide as a group before we go out and start soliciting … . I was just surprised to see that press release with no discussion whatsoever.”

“I can’t communicate anything to you about a proposal because I wouldn’t know what to articulate to you,” Woodfin replied. “There has been nobody on our team that’s talked to anybody with the Raiders organization. There’s nothing I can tell you because I don’t know.”

Parker said the initiative was part of the park board’s “quest to make sure that Legion Field stays viable,” and said that he hoped the council would keep public conversation of the proposal “minimal.”

Abbott said the council and the mayor should “get together and decide what we’re going to do … because the park board is not independently funded … . They can’t make commitments to a team that the city’s going to do anything.”

In response, Hoyt suggested that Parker should be allowed autonomy in his attempts to attract sporting events.

“He has the ability and the acumen to do some things, and we have to all sometimes let folk do what they do well,” he said. “If he could pull (this) off, I’m going to move to District 4 and vote for him.”

The Big Picture: Woodfin’s Team Updates Residents About Progress on Public Safety, Economic Opportunities and Other Initiatives
03-22-2019

A black-and-white photo of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin — shot in profile, eyes fixed in an expression of steely determination — hovered over the stage of the Alabama School of Fine Arts’ Dorothy Jemison Day Theater on Thursday night.

Another Pro Football League Takes the Field in Birmingham. Will This One Stay Afloat?
03-19-2019

It’s almost become a tradition for football fans in the Magic City. Every few years, yet another professional football league comes to Legion Field, with aspirations to bring some semblance of high-level gridiron action to The Old Gray Lady on Graymont.

MLB Youth Foundation Reassessing Plans for Youth Academy at George Ward Park
03-5-2019

  Update – March 6, 2019  The City of Birmingham later provided to WBHM the mayor’s full comment, a portion of which appeared in the BirminghamWatch story below. “I’ll try to make this short. I received a lot of emails and calls and texts and I think I saw the word ‘my,’ ‘our’ more than […]

Judge Delays Decision on Whether Ed May Remains Fairfield’s Mayor, Orders May to Include Council in His Lawsuit
02-23-2019

The question of who is Fairfield’s rightful mayor won’t be answered definitively any time soon, as Circuit Court Judge Pat Ballard ordered Ed May II, who was elected mayor, to add members of the City Council to his suit against the Jefferson County Personnel Board.

Behind Teacher Shortage: Fewer New Educators Graduating From Alabama Schools
02-22-2019

The number of new teachers coming out of education colleges and programs in Alabama fell by about 40 percent comparing 2010-2011 and 2015-2016, according to the latest available federal data. The decrease could be worse nearly three years later.