Legacy Arena celebrates 40 years, Top Golf one step closer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s the 40 year anniversary for the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center’s Legacy Arena, and to celebrate, many are reflecting on the facility’s significant past.

“In terms of contributing quality of life or as an economic engine, as an employer or taxes that are generated from the operations of the building–it’s just a fantastic community amenity that we’re glad is here,” said BJCC Executive Director Tad Snider.

Based on rough estimates, Legacy Arena has hosted 1,600 shows which around 12 million people have attended. However, the BJCC wants to see the facility’s lifespan continue and flourish. The building’s updates and improvements are just one of many proposal’s before the BJCC’s board.

A conceptual master plan for the BJCC has been presented. Right now, they working to see what it would take to tackle those conceptual options–like adding a suite level, widening concourses, improving parking and concession stands, and adding other fan amenities.

However, there are additional proposals that have made recent news — and caused some confusion on social media.

Top Golf is essentially a high-tech golf range that has been proposed to expand the Uptown footprint. The facility has 26 other locations across the U.S. but this would be the first in Alabama–and the company’s first truly urban project. Top Golf uses balls with microchips in them to track the distance and accuracy of shots. Players can also hit targets for points. Some have compared it to a bowling alley — which individual bays and seating areas for participants.

Social media erupted on Wednesday night with news that Top Golf was officially coming to Birmingham–however, that’s not exactly true–yet.

On Wednesday morning, the Top Golf building exteriors went before the city’s Design and Review Committee–where they were approved. The BJCC Authority owns the land, and has negotiated a ground lease with the Top Golf group to potentially develop on the site. However, there are additional hurdles that they will have to pass. For example, a rezoning public hearing at some point.

Still, Snider says it’s an exciting step closer to becoming a reality. He estimates that other Top Golf facilities see around 400,000 people each year, and that will only add to the energy and excitement that has already been building in the Uptown District.

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