Birmingham Arena Debate

A $505 million renovation and expansion plan in Birmingham, Ala., that includes a 40,000-seat indoor stadium has been endorsed by convention center officials but faces opposition because the project doesn’t leave room for expansion.

Members of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex board voted unanimously February 24th to move forward with the plan during a board retreat in Salt Lake City.

The arena could play host to a variety of events and the cost reportedly would be $120 million less than building a 70,000-seat domed stadium that has also been discussed, according to the Birmingham News.

However, the Birmingham City Council and County Commission must consider the proposal first, and reportedly have reservations about the project because there’s no room to expand the stadium down the line.

City Council President Carole Smitherman told the News that the BJCC might not be seeing the big picture.

"To whom are they marketing it? What colleges have they talked to?" Smitherman said. "Without the capacity to add on, I don’t know that I can support that."

BJCC Board Chairman Clyde Echols disagreed, claiming the objections are political posturing.

"This stuff is about mayoral politics. Both of them are probably running for mayor," Echols told the News. "That is ironic about Larry, because the original 40,000-seat figure came out of his mouth, so how can he think about voting against it."

BJCC officials were expected to present the idea to the county commission at a March 1st meeting.