On Tuesday, the city of Mobile approved an ordinance on a 99-year lease agreement with the Mobile County Board of Education (BOE) to lease Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The lease price will be $1 for the entire term. However, the deal is not set in stone until the BOE approves the agreement.

The city and the BOE have gone back and forth on issues about the sale. Many residents have been against it because they do not want the stadium to lose its sentimental value and community purpose.

Councilman William Carroll said he had had a lot of reservations about the deal, but after speaking with legal counsel, he agreed to vote to approve the lease agreement.

“With the language in place, I am asked to trust the process,” said Carroll. “The process which I am … concerned with. However, I’m also told that if it comes back to us after being changed and if we don’t agree to it, then we don’t have to agree to it when it comes back. So, we still have the strength and ability to make sure that this sale is done correctly when it comes back to me again.”

Carroll said he will be watching closely to ensure Mobile’s culture and the culture surrounding the stadium stay intact.

The property, at 1621 Virginia Street, needs millions of dollars in renovations, and the school system has unofficially agreed to help with the stadium's upkeep.

The council-approved agreement reads, "Tenant shall not make any alterations to the Leased Premises without the prior written consent of the majority of its Board, however, if the Board's bylaws require unanimous consent for such action to be taken, then such unanimous consent shall be required in order for the alternation to be permitted by this Agreement."

Councilman Cory Penn said he has also been reading through agreements and is seeing a positive impact on the stadium with the school system taking over. Penn was interrupted several times by concerned citizens but tried to continue to speak.

"I think we have to realize as a community that just because things are changing and it might not be the way that you look at it, doesn't mean that it's evil or somebody is trying to trick you or trying to do something bad," said Penn.

Penn said he would not make a deal that would take HBCU games away from the stadium, which has been a concern among citizens.

The Ladd-Peebles Sports and Entertainment Complex is the largest outdoor venue on the Gulf Coast. It has hosted the likes of Elvis, Charlie Daniels and Ed Sullivan. Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant coached his first game for the University of Alabama in the stadium.

The school system is expected to discuss the matter on July 6.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email erica.thomas@1819news.com.

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