Tuscaloosa mayor floats convention center idea by tourism commission

Tuscaloosa mayor floats convention center idea by tourism commission

TUSCALOOSA, AL (WBRC) - Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox looked at the sales tax dollars brought in recently. He says it's off by as much as $4 to $8 million dollars. Now he's floating a new idea to fix it.

Maddox told board members of the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission that building a convention center or sports complex and shifting to an "experience economy" when it comes to entertainment could put the city in a better financial position.

"It's getting people to come to our city to enjoy an experience to spend money on food, to spend money on shopping because they're here for an event you can't get from a cyber community," according to Maddox.

He believes hosting big events that bring visitors to Tuscaloosa could help. They'd stay in hotels, shop and spend more money in area hotels.

But building a convention center in Tuscaloosa could be costly. He explained to board members a 50,000 square foot building could cost $400 a square foot to build.

"We know we can draw more people in. It's just from an operational standpoint, the civic center is going to lose money. But how much can you lose and at the same time generate an economic impact that will offset it and ultimately be good for the community," Maddox added.

Plans for a complex have not been drawn up and no money is currently budgeted for it.

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