BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) -- The Jefferson County Commission unanimously approved $30M in funding toward a new $174M stadium in downtown Birmingham. The commission is the first to publicly commit money to the project.
The funds would be allocated $1M per year from the economic development fund over 30 years.
“This Jefferson County Commission is unanimous in its support of this and we look forward to seeing ground being broken," said Commission President Jimmie Stephens after roll-call vote resulted in unanimous approval during the commission meeting.
However, there's a caveat.
“Our resolution says our commitment is good as long as construction begins in 2018," explained District 5 Commissioner David Carrington.
Talk of a new stadium in Birmingham has been going on for years with little or no progress to show. Commissioners say they hope their commitment will inspire the other stakeholders.
“We thought it was only proper and prudent to go ahead and to put that out and to get everyone to give a little initiative -- a little push to get this project going because we're on a very, very limited time frame," said Stephens.
Commissioners said if they want to take full advantage of the new stadium, the time is now.
“This ground must be broken if we're going to be there for the the World Games ... but it's very important to have that. We have a new soccer team coming into town. We need to have a good facility for them. We have UAB football which we would like to have for six venues in the 2020 season," said Stephens.
“It's not just a UAB stadium. It can be used for outdoor concerts, the bowl game, the Magic City Classic if that's the decision, extreme sports," explained Carrington.
Commissioners believe the stadium will be an economic engine that will bring people and new revenue streams to Jefferson County.
Stephens said he would like to see construction coincide with interstate construction already going on at I-20/59 as well as planned renovations at the BJCC and Legacy Arena.
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