Jefferson County Commission giving $5M to develop amphitheater in Birmingham

Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 5:58 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UPDATE 2/9/23: The Jefferson County Commissioners voted to provide $5 million dollars to the new amphitheater, but it was not unanimous. Three commissioners voted yes, one voted no, and another abstained. Commissioner Tyson and Commissioner Scales are the two who didn’t vote yes, and both cited residents concerns that the project will not do enough to benefit the surrounding community as why.

“I am just not doing this grandstanding about nothing. This is serious. They have got to invest in the neighborhood, and I don’t see it,” said Commissioner Sheila Tyson.

Commissioner Lashunda Scales chose to abstain, and stressed that in her eyes it is the responsibility of the city to improve the neighborhoods.

“If this commission decides to move forward with this project, I am going to tell you where you need to go back and get your answers from. Right across the street,” said Scales.

Commissioner Stephens tried stressing that the county would only be a fiscal partner for the amphitheater, and that its development would revitalize the area. He says development plans include everything from a grocery store, to health and retail spaces.

“The worst thing we could do, would be to do nothing,” said Stephens.

A handful of residents aired their grievances during the public comments portions.

“They always sit on their sidelines and keep their revenue to themselves, but they come up here and use you like a sugar daddy,” said Southeast Lake resident Ronald Jackson. He argued that the management company Live Nation should pay for the project, not ask the city and county to buy in.

As we told you before, several entities have to pay $5 million dollars before the BJCC goes to the bond market seeking the additional $30 million in funding.

Some neighborhood residents are not against the amphitheater, but were hopeful that some assurances would be made that any revenue brought in would go towards betting the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We are all for progress, we are all for improvement, we are all for music, but we just need to know when these projects come into not only Druid Hills, but also our Norwood neighbors, that it is going to have a positive impact on the quality of life for the people who live in these neighborhoods,” said Druid Hills resident Janet Maycock.

Stephens assured the residents that if the amphitheater is built, it will benefit the neighborhoods, and he is glad to see the project picking up speed.

“We are glad to get the funding finally in place, so the operational part of this project can finally begin,” said Stephens.

Commissioner Stephens tells us that next a management deal must be made with Live Nation, and then the construction and development project with Robert Simon will begin.

ORIGINAL 2/7/23: Jefferson County Commissioners are debating about helping fund a Birmingham amphitheater.

We are a step closer, even if it is a tiny one. After discussions inside the pre-commission meeting on Tuesday, the amphitheater and the potential for the Jefferson County Commission to provide funding will now come up for a vote on Thursday.

The county is the last of several partners that must contribute $5 million dollars before the project moves forward.

Commissioner Sheila Tyson believes more must be done to better the surrounding area if they are going to contribute $5 million dollars. However, Commission President Jimmie Stephens defended the project and stresses that it will be vital in helping better the community.

“I would be scared to get out of my car if I went to a concert up there,” said Tyson.

“The way it looks right now,” responded Stephens.

“Where is the guarantee?” questioned Tyson.

“I can’t give you a guarantee on anything except what is happening between the Jefferson County Commission and their contributions to build the amphitheater,” responded Stephens.

Commissioner Lashunda Scales hopes that if the commission provides the money, developers will consider providing opportunities for under utilized businesses.

“I would hope that we would be intentional about making sure that we have women owned, Black owned, those with disabilities that own companies, that we are bringing all those folks to the table,” said Scales.

Either way the funding will be voted on Thursday. Stephens tells us that if approved, only a few hurdles would remain for the event space.

“A management deal with Live Nation, and then the construction project and development project with Robert Simon and the Star project,” said Stephens.

We will update you after the commission votes on Thursday.

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