On Tuesday, October 19, the Jefferson County Commission shared a plan to construct a massive, $50 million amphitheater in North Birmingham on the former Carraway Hospital campus. Keep reading for all the details.
Does Birmingham need a new amphitheater?
When I first heard the proposed amphitheater in North Birmingham, I was a bit surprised. After all, new Protective Stadium is just a few blocks away and has proved its worth as a music venue, selling out its inaugural concert with Garth Brooks earlier this year. Don’t forget, the recently-renovated Legacy Arena is well known as a music venue as well.
However, these venues are geared towards larger acts.
“There are so many acts that won’t perform in Protective Stadium or Legacy Arena because they’re not able to sell out 45,000 tickets like Garth Brooks. These are bands that are a little less showman-like and more music centric, and want to perform in a venue that has around 8,000 to 9,000 seats. That’s something we’re missing in Birmingham, so it is a void.”Hunter Williams, Birmingham City Councilor, District 2
Although the Oak Mountain Amphitheater can seat 12,000, officials have had concerns about the state of the Amphitheater and its location—about a 30 minute drive south of Birmingham. According to a report by WVTM 13, Live Nation, Inc—the owner of Oak Mountain Amphitheater—is ready to “shutter” the Pelham concert venue.
“Bands are not getting excited to travel to Shelby County to the amphitheater in Pelham that is aged, recently flooded and had to be shut down for over a year due to its structural issues. At that point, artists are going to stop thinking about performing in Birmingham.”Hunter Williams, Birmingham City Councilor, District 2
About the proposed amphitheater
According to the proposal presented to the Jefferson County Commission this week, the $50 million amphitheater will:
- Be located in North Birmingham and anchor The Star Uptown, a $300 million mixed-use development on the site of the former Carraway Hospital.
- Include between 8,500 to 9,000 seats.
- Be funded by $5 million each from Jefferson County, the city of Birmingham, the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) and Live Nation, Inc. The remainder of the funds would come from a $30 million bond, paid over the next 30 years.
Should the $50 million amphitheater move forward, it will be a massive boon to The Star Uptown. Visitors to the amphitheater would boost traffic to The Star Uptown and support retail elements of the mixed-use development.
If approved, the amphitheater would be owned by the BJCC and managed by Live Nation, Inc.
“The state of Alabama does not have a venue that is directly managed and promoted by a national or global company that can consistently bring top-notch acts. In this case, this would be the only amphitheater managed by Live Nation in the state of Alabama and it would put Birmingham on the map to be able to receive shows that we otherwise would not be receiving.”Hunter Williams, Birmingham City Councilor, District 2
While the $50 million amphitheater is an exciting proposal, it is not a done deal. According to AL.com, one of the major roadblocks is an agreement between the BJCC and the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). In order for the project to move forward, the CVB would need to relinquish hotel tax payments from the BJCC—an agreement dating back to 2003. The BJCC would then use those funds for the proposed amphitheater.
“We have identified a funding source that already exists in the form of taxes from the Sheraton and the Westin. Those funds would be redirected, so there will be no extra burden or extra taxes on the taxpayer.”Hunter Williams, Birmingham City Councilor, District 2
The leaders involved in the proposal are hopeful that the amphitheater will move forward.
“What Protective Stadium and Legacy Arena did is show the first real intergovernmental cooperation—from a regional and state level—that we’ve never seen before. We have a group of progressive forward-thinking leaders in Birmingham that are willing to push projects forward and are willing to work with other agencies to get this done.”Hunter Williams, Birmingham City Councilor, District 2
- 41% of responders approve of the amphitheater.
- 24% of responders do not approve.
- 15% of responders are undecided.
- 21% of responders have not yet heard of the project.
Would you like to see the proposed amphitheater in North Birmingham move forward? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know what you think!