Birmingham approves financing new 9000 seat amphitheater next to former Carraway Hospital site

A rendering of the amphitheater in North Birmingham. (Direct Communications)

The Birmingham City Council passed a resolution today to finalize its support for the financing and construction of a $50 million amphitheater next to The Star at Uptown, a $346 million mixed-use redevelopment in North Birmingham.

The proposed open-air amphitheater will be located on 25th Street in the Druid Hills neighborhood.

Commitments and Financing

The project was first proposed in December 2022. Since then, according to Councilor Clinton Woods there have been continued conversations and ongoing commitments toward minority participation and local hiring.

Here is how the financing will work.

First – the facility will be owned by the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex and will be managed by Live Nation, a national entertainment company. 

The city’s financial contribution is limited to a one-time $5 million payment. Jefferson County, the BJCC and Live Nation are also making upfront payments that will lower the amount the BJCC must finance for the amphitheater’s construction from $50 million to $30 million.

Working Together Regionally

City Councilor Hunter Williams described the project as a game-changer for the entire region.

“We are finally working together as a region to do these big build projects that we’ve talked about for 35 to 40 years. I think the fact that we have a private-public partnership in this where the city is only allocating $5 million, and we will recoup a large percent of that back in permits and fees for amenities. It will bring not only entertainment to the city of Birmingham but will yield enough room night stays to build probably two more hotels somewhere in the city of Birmingham. This is a no brainer investment.”

Cover shortfalls

In a statement after the city council vote, the BJCC reiterated its $5 million contribution, but also stated its commitment to cover any construction cost overruns and to rehabilitate parking decks on the Carraway property. If proceeds in any year are insufficient to cover the amphitheater debt, the BJCC also has committed to cover those shortfalls.

“This deal is structured to make sure the city and county have no ongoing financial obligations for the amphitheater,” Tad Snider, the CEO of the BJCC said.“We’re talking about one upfront payment only, and ultimately, we will pay the city approximately $1.3 million for building permits and other fees, bringing the city’s net contribution below $4 million.”

The vote

The Council voted in favor of the measure 7 to 1, with an abstention.  

Councilor Valerie Abbott voted against the measure citing neighborhood concerns and the lack of a city-wide residential parking plan. Councilor Carol Clarke abstained because she works for Corporate Realty, the developer of The Star Uptown.

“I’m really very excited about completing this final phase, ” Council Pro-Tem Crystal Smitherman, concluded about the project. “I think we have really put Birmingham on the map.”

The BJCC expects the amphitheater to open in 2025.

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Pat Byington
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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