Downtown stadium; sounds good to me
by Jerome Wassman
Sep 04, 2011 | 1436 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jerome Wassmann
Jerome Wassmann
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I have been watching with interest what the outcome is going to be reference the new baseball stadium in downtown Birmingham. The $60 million dollar project (and before it is completed, if in fact built) will more than likely cost somewhat more than the original estimate. So I hope that the city has taken into consideration what the eventual price tag might be and planned for additional costs. I remember many, many years ago asking a friend of mine in the banking business what it should cost to build a nice home. His remark was, “Whatever the price the contractor gives you for doing the construction, add 30%!” Now if that same formula applies for the stadium then the city is looking at a final cost of $78 million. I also realize that the longer you delay construction, the more it is probably going to cost.

It was gratifying to see that the council held their ground and asked that the mayor give them all the information for them to study in detail before making the final decision. A couple of questions that seem to stick in my mind is will there be adequate parking for those attending and will enough folks patronize the Barons each season for the outlay to be feasible. I guess another question would be how much traffic congestion will be created with folks driving to the games as well as the congestion created when they leave the stadium. Of course the ideal situation would be for patrons to ride the bus both to and from the game but we all know the situation that the BJTA is in. They are struggling to just keep their regular routes going and employees gainfully employed. In fact the most recent news I have read is they are going to cut several routes and lay off nearly 50 people because of a shortfall in their funding.

It would seem that a baseball stadium downtown should certainly attract more folks to that area and that has to be good for business, which would be another plus in favor of its construction. I’m sure that all concerned are hopeful that with the stadium downtown more folks will be able to attend the Barons games which in turn I would assume will provide more tax revenue for the city.

At this point it seems that the property needed for the construction of the facility has been acquired or at least promised so that the city officials and Barons owners can proceed with the next step. It appears that the B & A Warehouse property is going to be incorporated into the overall plans or the city will continue negotiations with that property’s owner. Eminent domain had been considered earlier in the negotiations but that I believe has been put on hold, which is, in my opinion, the right thing to do.

With the new Westin that is being built and the entertainment district in the works, it would seem a minor league stadium in the downtown area would certainly be an additional attraction. Let’s hope that the city and the Barons owners have made the right decision.

Time will tell if this decision by city officials as well as the team’s ownership will prove a plus for both parties.

The mayor, the city council, the property owners and the team have decided to make a very large investment in the city, let’s all do our part to see that the investment was well placed.

Jerome Wassmann is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle.