BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – After putting the project on the back-burner in 2010 when he was elected, Birmingham Mayor William Bell says the time is right to revive the long debated dome project.
Bell says the completion of several projects like the Uptown Entertainment District and Regions Field show the city can handle small projects and sets the stage for something bigger.
During a radio show interview Thursday morning Bell said he is working on gathering support for the project from the private sector and also said he’s hopeful that a sit down with the Board of Trustees at the University of Alabama at Birmingham will happen soon.
After a ribbon cutting at a library in Inglenook Bell answered questions from the media after the radio interview created quite the buzz.
The project would cost about $500 million. “We’re looking at a public/private partnership,” says Bell.
When former Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford broke ground on the site in 2009 a one cent sales tax and doubling of businesses license fees would fund the multi-million dollar facility.
Eddie Bradford, who lives in Birmingham, says if it means jobs and more growth for the Birmingham area, he’s willing to pay for it.
“Anything for the progression of the city that would influence other businesses and other business models to come into the city, i think it would help in various areas of progress,” say Bradford.
Dave Folk, also a Birmingham resident, says the reasons behind building the dome are a “hoop dream” and the money would be better spent on other things.
“There’s no reason for all of the events that people think that they are going to draw to Birmingham to leave the more established venues that they’re already at. Invest it in transportation, invest it in making it a more sustainable city, invest it in take all of that money and give it to businesses to relocate down town.”
Further details haven’t been released but Bell says he’s thinks the city is closed to being able to make an announcement about the commitment to build the dome.
Once that commitment is made, improvements to the BJCC will also be in the works to bring it up to par with the new facility.