The City of Birmingham will contribute $90 million toward a new downtown stadium and an expansion of the BJCC. The council voted 6 to 3 on Monday for the plan following a four-hour debate that was contentious at times.
Council members Valerie Abbott, John Hilliard, Steven Hoyt, William Parker, Jay Roberson and Hunter Williams voted for the plan,. Council members Darrell O’Quinn, Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson opposed it.
Mayor Randall Woodfin lobbied for approval for the funding, which has the city pay $3 million annually for 30 years. Scales, a Woodfin supporter on the council, Lashunda Scales, said the mayor is not keeping his promise to prioritize neighborhoods. She also said Birmingham needs more representation on the BJCC board, which will govern the project. Councilman Roberson serves on the BJCC board, and the mayor is an ex-officio member of the board.
Councilman John Hilliard said Birmingham needs to expand its civic center to compete with Southeastern cities such as Memphis and Nashville to lure bigger events.
“All of them are expanding their footprint with their convention centers,” Hilliard said. “We’re not doing anything. We’re being left out of the market place while we sit here and talk.”
Woodfin said the BJCC expansion and downtown stadium will bring in an additional $9 million to $10 million a year. The council voted unanimously on Tuesday to earmark that money for neighborhood revitalization.