Shed Proposed In Tuscaloosa

By August 2010, Tuscaloosa, Ala., could be home to a new 6,000-seat, $13 million amphitheatre along the city’s riverfront.

Mayor Walt Maddox, who had been studying the feasibility of the project and location with a group of city employees since December, presented the amphitheatre plan to the city council and public at a meeting July 29, according to Tuscaloosa News.

Maddox recommended the council hire Birmingham, Ala.-based Davis Architects and showed off the firm’s artist rendering, which features the stage in the northwest corner of the lot and includes fixed seats, not bleachers.

The mayor’s plan included a contract with Red Mountain Entertainment to book performances, promote shows, sell advertising and naming rights, and provide staffing to manage the venue.

President Gary Weinberger, who wasn’t available for comment at press time, told the Tuscaloosa News his company would book acts across genres including country, pop, rock, classic rock, gospel and blues.

Along with the venue plan, Maddox recommended moving the Tuscaloosa Farmers Market and Convention and Travelers Bureau offices to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property along the riverfront, linking the two sections of the Riverwalk. The open-air market would be connected to a new visitors center. The mayor estimated the plan to cost $1.8 million.

The city council raised the city’s lodging tax from 7 to 9 percent in October with $100,000 going toward a sports foundation and the remainder to help pay for a bond issue to build the amphitheatre or a civic center downtown. The city council has authorized 2 percent of the local lodging tax to repay debt for the construction of the venue, the farmers market and Tuscaloosa Convention and Travelers Bureau offices.

To go forward on the project, the city council must give their approval. Council president Harrison Taylor said he expects council members will give the thumbs-up to the mayor’s proposal.

"This is a quality-of-life issue, something that the citizens of Tuscaloosa deserve," he told the Tuscaloosa News. "This is all first-class and top-of-the-line. It will be a real showpiece for the riverfront."