Tuscaloosa City Council makes progress on new Saban Discovery Center and Conference Center

Big changes coming to Tuscaloosa
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2022 at 7:36 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa city leaders took a major step this week to move forward with the new Saban Discovery Center and a conference on the same campus. Assuming it all comes together moving forward, the location will be where the old Tuscaloosa News building is right now, directly across from the amphitheater.

Mayor Walt Maddox said for all intents and purposes, this is a done deal. By a vote of six to one on August 2, the project will now move to the design stage.

“We are losing hundreds of thousands of visitors a year,” said mayor Walt Maddox.

Mayor Walt Maddox said it’s long past time for Tuscaloosa to build a conference center because the city is simply losing too much money, too many potential visitors and watching too many opportunities slip away.

“Those visitors can be spending anywhere from a hundred to two hundred dollars a day above what they’re paying for their hotel rooms right here in Tuscaloosa,” Maddox said.

A rendering shows what the Saban Discovery Center will look like along with a conference center next door. Both will be built on the same campus, the same property where the Tuscaloosa News building sits now. $45 million is set aside for the Saban Discovery Center, a concept that’ll include a wide range of topics such as science, technology and the arts for children.

“20% of that will be funded through people like Nick and Terry Saban, and as of today have given two million dollars to this project.”

Another $45 million or so is set aside for the conference center next door.

“This was a commitment by the city council we’re going to do it,” Mayor Maddox said.

The design phase will take about a year and a half. City leaders anticipate bidding out the project in October of next year.

“The thing that makes the event center needed is it gives us the flexibility to not only host a conference of 1,500 people, it can also be converted for gymnastic meets, sporting events, so it gives you a multi-use function.”

Build it and they will come, that’s the hope and the dream behind it all.

The tentative opening is set for October of 2025, according to the Mayor, and once it’s built estimates show that Tuscaloosa could see close to 200,000 more visitors per year.


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