North Birmingham is getting the ball rolling on its new amphitheater project that many believe will replace the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre in Pelham.
Such a major move has left many asking about who will be paying for this new project, and who’s voiced their support so far.
The proposal is for a new 8,900-to-9,000-seat amphitheater in North Birmingham, where Carraway Hospital was once located — just a couple of blocks north of Protective Stadium.
According to the Birmingham Business Journal, Corporate Realty bought the Carraway Hospital site in 2020 after the city re-zoned the property for mixed-use and approved over $13 million in incentives, including a $4.1 million grant to help the company acquire the property.
The incentives also include $9.1 million, which would be based on tax revenues generated by the entire development.
The planned $340 million development, now referred to as “The Star at Uptown,” is intended to include single-family and multifamily residential properties as well as hotel, retail, office and entertainment facilities.
The new amphitheater would be located within this development.
The proposed amphitheater move resembles the 2010 announcement of the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team's move from what was once known as the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium to its current home stadium in Birmingham at Regions Field.
So where will all the money for the project be coming from?
Alabama Tourism Department: $3 million
The Alabama Tourism Department offered to give $3 million over three years to support construction.
BJCC: $35 million ($5 million upfront and $30 million financed)
The BJCC board of directors agreed to invest $5 million upfront and become the official owners of the amphitheater, which would be managed by Live Nation.
If the project moves forward, the BJCC will also borrow $30 million over the next 30 years to fund the rest of the construction. This will be financed.
The Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau (BCVB) approved a motion to relinquish the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) they received from the Westin and Sheraton, the two hotels on the BJCC campus.
This BJCC was previously required to contribute part of the hotels’ revenue to the BCVB according to an agreement from the early 2000s. By relinquishing the PILT, the BJCC will be able to use that money to make debt payments for the new amphitheater.
Jefferson County Commission: $5 million
The Jefferson County Commission (JCC) has been asked to contribute $5 million to the project to help fund the $20 million buydown for the amphitheater.
JCC president Jimmy Stephens said that he expects the commission to vote on this within the next month.
Birmingham City Council: $5 million
Birmingham City Council also has been asked to contribute $5 million to the buydown.
Stephens said the council has not voted on their contribution either, but he doesn’t anticipate any problems from either the JCC or the Birmingham City Council.
Live Nation: $5 million
Live Nation, who currently manages the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre and will manage the new amphitheater for the BJCC if it moves forward, will be expected to pay $5 million for the buydown as well.
Stephens said the stakeholders (Live Nation, the JCC, Birmingham City Council, and the BJCC) are currently negotiating with Corporate Realty to acquire the property for the BJCC.
Who has voiced their support?
Jefferson County Commission President Jimmy Stephens: Stephens expressed his support for the theater when he spoke to 1819 News in October. He said the advantage of the move would be to have all the BJCC entertainment venues in the same place, thereby putting Birmingham on the map with Nashville and Atlanta as a stopping point for national acts.
Stephens suggested that Birmingham used to be known as a convention hub, but the convention industry didn't really recover from the hit it took during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight: Knight said the amphitheater “is an opportunity to invest in our assets as a community without putting more burden on taxpayers in Birmingham and Jefferson County.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin: Woodfin said in October that the project would be important “to the overall revitalization of the Carraway property, which is a key priority for neighborhoods in north Birmingham.”
Birmingham City Councilor Hunter Williams: Williams praised the project and said that the council is “excited for another chance to make something big happen in Birmingham.” Williams is also on the BCVB board of directors and the chair of the City Council’s Economic Development and Tourism Committee.
Executive Director of the BJCC Tad Snider: Snider said the new amphitheater would “enhance our ability to attract top-tier performers and acts to Birmingham.”
BCVB President John Oros: Oros called the theater project a “new asset to our community” and said that it would attract visitors from outside of Jefferson County.
State Sen. Jabo Waggoner: Waggoner publicly backed the proposed move in a press release from Woodfin’s office. Waggoner’s district cuts into Pelham and borders the amphitheater's property. He does not represent the area where the new amphitheater would be constructed. Nevertheless, he is on the BCVB board of directors. 1819 News reached out to him on October 28 and received no response.
Corporate Realty CEO Robert Simon: Simon said that “a project of the size, scope and scale has every element: Quality and attainable housing, retail, hospitality, medical services and parking assets.”
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