Birmingham residents question necessity of new downtown stadium

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Earlier this month, the Birmingham City Council approved supporting the renovation of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) including construction of a new downtown stadium. 

The 7-0-1 vote —  Councilor Lashunda Scales abstained and Councilor Sheila Tyson was not present — followed lengthy debate over the development.

On one side, Mayor Randall Woodfin, a proponent of the new development argued it would bring much-needed revenue to the Magic City. Meanwhile, on the other side, opponents questioned the necessity of the 30-year, $90 million project.

Councilor Scales abstained from the vote, but not before questioning the project and speaking out against it.

“You said the expansion has been talked about for years, and you’re absolutely right,” Scales directed to Woodfin. “But we’ve also been talking about dilapidated homes for years, we’ve been talking about overgrown lots for years, we’ve been talking about how we don’t have money for schools for years. So when are we going to get to the meat and potatoes of talking about people. People in Birmingham, Mr. Mayor, are hurting.”

Scales is among the growing opposition for the downtown stadium. She and other opponents, believe the city should invest 91-year old Legion Field located to the west of the city instead.

“I wanted to be on a team that was for everybody,” Scales said before the Council’s Feb. 6 vote. “Mr. Mayor, if you build this stadium where you have Legion Field, I will be your best cheerleader… But if we’re not going to do that, I think it’s a disservice to the poor people.”

Scales made it clear in her questioning, she believes the BJCC project is  another example of the City of Birmingham ignoring the poorer neighborhoods in favor of the downtown area.

On Thursday, Birmingham-Democrat, State Rep. Juandalynn Givan hosted a community meeting at Parker High School to discuss the proposed six-percent tax on automobile leases and rentals in Jefferson County, which has yet to be introduced, to fund the new stadium.

“We want the world to know that Legion Field is just as iconic for us as Vulcan is for (others) in another neighborhood,” Smithfield resident Pat Davis told AL.com.

Stop the stadium. Build up our neighborhoods. Keep campaign promises,” posted Birmingham-resident Michael Jones on Facebook.

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