Birmingham may reduce dome commitment

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The city of Birmingham may slow down on it's support of the domed stadium.

The BJCC board meets later this week, and new Birmingham mayor William Bell will attend his first board meeting. The board is continuing work on architectual designs for a domed stadum, much of which is being paid for by the city of Birmingham. However, Bell says the city may have to reduce it's commitment.

"We are going to step back slightly," Bell said Tuesday. "There are going to be some areas we are going to step back slightly. It's not going to eliminate our committment to the dome."

Birmingham is facing a $20 million debt for the current fiscal year and Bell said he is concerned about increasing the city's debt obligation.

Jefferson Co. Commission President Bettye Fine Collins, who also sits on the board, supports slowing the project down.

"I think a smaller version of what we have prepared should have been done years ago," Collins said Tuesday.

Jefferson Co. Commissioner Jim Carns continues to question the cost of the domed stadium, which is now around $500 million.

"The dome may be a good thing if we could afford it," Carns said. "We can't. We have never been able to afford it."

Despite the possible setback, Bell said the city is not backing off the domed stadium project, but admits it cannot build the dome without help.

"The city of Birmingham can not build this dome by itself," Bell said. "We have to have participation by the the private sector and as well as the state."