Alabama Arena In Limbo

While Mobile, Ala., officials still can’t decide how or when to replace the city’s aging , the only sure thing seems to be that it will close next year.


There’s talk of a public-private partnership to fund a new building, but nothing concrete has been proposed. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced earlier this year that the venue will be closed to outside organizations after April 24, signaling the end is near.

But many local “mystic” organizations use the Civic Center to launch parades and other Mardi Gras and Carnival events, and at least some of those groups oppose taking the wrecking ball to the old buildings, according to the Alabama Media Group.

The Mayor’s Office is walking a fine line balancing the Civic Center’s future against the influence of the local societies, according to AMG.  The 10,000-capacity Mobile Civic Center Arena is also part of the larger complex, and is underused and a “maintenance migraine” costing the city some $2 million a year, Stimpson reportedly said.

The City Council says it’s waiting on the mayor, who says it’s “too early” to say. Civic Center defenders say the city can’t demolish a building where Elvis Presley once performed. But there seems to be agreement that it needs major upgrades to become American with Disabilities Act compliant – as much as $20 million worth. At the same time, the mystic societies point out, Mardi Gras balls and other festivities centered in the arena bring in as much as $400 million in economic benefit to the city.