Over a month after news broke of a potential deal that would move Pelham's Oak Mountain Amphitheatre to North Birmingham, most Shelby County officials remain silent.
1819 News reached out to a number of Shelby County officials over the last month to ask about the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, including the entire Pelham City council and several members of the Shelby County Commission.
Robbie Hayes, the commission's vice chair, said Tuesday that he doesn't know enough about the deal to comment thoroughly but struggles with the idea of the theater moving to North Birmingham because of the crime.
"I struggle with me going up there when I have Oak Mountain Amphitheatre," Hayes said. "I'd rather have a place that's in my own county that I [am confident] has a little more safety. But that's the only thing I could comment on right now."
"The County and Pelham have a great partnership and work together on numerous projects," said commissioner Ward Williams, whose district includes the amphitheater property, in a statement to 1819 News. "Outdoor entertainment is very important and ranked high on quality of life desires when residents are surveyed. The area near Oak Mountain State Park will always be important to economic development and tourism for Pelham and Shelby County."
Kevin Morris, the commission's chairman, did not respond to our request to comment. Neither did commissioners Lindsey Allison and Mike Vest, whose districts are close to the theater.
On Tuesday, when 1819 News reached out to Elwyn Bearden, whose district is also close to the amphitheater, we were told he was out of the country.
State Rep. Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham), who represents the area around the amphitheater property in the State House, also did not respond.
State Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) said he spoke to Paschal about the potential move, but they determined that it was outside of their jurisdiction.
"It's a business decision, and we don't get involved in business decisions here," Roberts said.
Roberts' colleague State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) has not had the same impulse as Roberts on the potential move. Earlier this month, the long-serving legislator declared the use of funds from the Alabama Legislature-authorized BJCC's lodging taxes to be within the parameters of the body's "original intent."
"Having these funds support an amphitheater is in full accord with the Legislature's original intent," Waggoner said in a press release from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announcing the proposal. "We know that in the long run, investing those funds in a new facility like this will serve the CVB's objectives and support economic growth in our community."
Pelham Mayor Gary Waters spoke to 1819 News in October after he found out about the proposed deal. He said he suspected that the plan was premature but has declined to comment since.
The Pelham City Council released a statement about the potential move after the media reported on the proposed deal for the first time. When asked for further comment as the deal has moved forward, the city reiterated its previous statement.
The proposed facility will seat 8,900 to 9,000 people and will be slightly smaller than the Oak Mountain Ampitheatre, which seats 10,500.
If the deal goes forward, it will be constructed where Carraway Hospital was once located — just a couple of blocks north of Protective Stadium.
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.
The Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex has agreed to pay $5 million upfront for the new theater's construction. It also agreed to finance $30 million. Other localities and organizations have been asked to fork up $5 million each to get the deal moving forward.
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