Bill to allow up to 15 entertainment districts in Birmingham, awaits final OK

Entertainment Districts
On June 22, 2020, Avondale became Birmingham’s 4th designated entertainment district. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Legislation that would allow up to 15 entertainment districts in the city of Birmingham awaits final approval in the Alabama House of Representatives.

Earlier in the session, on February 25th, the Alabama Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 88 (SB 88) expanding the number of entertainment districts in the Magic City. Sponsored by State Senator Rodger Smitherman of Birmingham, the legislation is expected to be taken up by the Alabama House before the session ends in May.

What does the Proposed Legislation Do?

Alabama Capitol
State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Under existing law, a Class 1 municipality may establish up to five entertainment districts. SB 88 would authorize the governing body of a Class 1 municipality to establish up to 15 entertainment districts. 

The city of Birmingham is Alabama’s only Class 1 municipality.

What is an entertainment district?

An entertainment district is a  designated area for businesses with alcohol licenses to allow drinks to be taken off premises within the district’s boundaries and during certain hours. 

Presently, the Magic City has carved out four entertainment districts. They are:

A Destination

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The epicenter of innovation for the city. Photo via The Switch

In an interview with Bham Now, Senator Smitherman told us why he is championing entertainment district expansion.

“This bill brings Birmingham into the 21st century in the area of entertainment and it helps us to become a destination, not just a place people pass through, but a place that people actually come to. It opens up our city.”

Smitherman identified several places around the Magic City that would benefit from his legislation, including Roebuck Parkway, Parkside District near Regions Field and the Five Points West/Crossplex area.

Growth in Entertainment Districts

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Sign out front at Stadium Trace entrance off John Hawkins Parkway. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Entertainment Districts have become very popular not only in Birmingham, but also surrounding suburban communities.

In 2020, Hoover, Trussville, Vestavia and Helena all approved new entertainment districts. Earlier this month, the Alabama Legislature approved HB 479 enabling the city of Mountain Brook to establish three entertainment districts.  

Smitherman summed up why entertainment districts are in high demand. 

“It’s a “win-win” for the city all the way around, and for the county too.”

More To Come

Stay tuned, as we track the Birmingham entertainment district bill. Beginning this week, there are seven days left in this year’s legislative session. We’ll know soon if it will make it to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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