Birmingham Has Plenty of Financial Ducks Lined Up for the BJCC Renovation, and UAB Will Benefit

After the recent vote by the Birmingham City Council to contribute $3 million per year over the course of the 30-year debt service for the BJCC expansion/renovation project, it looks like all of the financial ducks are lined up in terms of covering the cost of this project, which includes a heavy renovation of Legacy Arena, a brand new open-air football (and other events) stadium, and other retail and business development.

So let’s review the ledger shall we?

As far as the actual cost of the project, here’s what we know: the current open-air stadium design is pegged at $174 million dollars, and the rest of the project is pegged at $300 million, $123 million of which is for the renovation of Legacy Arena. So the expense looks something like this:

  • $174 million – Hilyer Stadium (because why not)
  • $123 million – Legacy Arena
  • $177 million – everything else (retail, business, etc)
  • $474 million total expense

Obviously, that is by no means a final price for all of this work, and one must account for overages, so let’s tally up the currently committed financial contributions and see where the balance is at currently.

  • $90 million – City of Birmingham ($3 mil/yr)
  • $30 million – Jefferson County ($1 mil/yr)
  • $321 million – BJCC Authority ($10.7 mil/yr)
  • $105 million – car tax ($3.5 mil/yr)
  • $40 million – UAB lease, naming rights, other marketing ($4 mil/yr first 10 years)
  • $585 million total

I didn’t include the “extras” in that listing because the “lease payments by UAB, naming rights and other marketing opportunities are projected to contribute $4 million a year over 10 years”, which obviously only covers the first 10 years of that thirty-year period and is only an estimation, much like the car tax money.

This is great work. The city, county, and other entities have presently committed enough money to cover at least 93% of the current projected cost of the project. If we include the projected “extras” as they currently stand, the total jumps to full cost plus 23% worth of overages (which, if you’ve read about enough of these projects, you should go ahead and assume will happen).

We’ve got little to go on right now as far as design and appearance other than what has come out previously from Populous, which is as much a concept as it is a finished plan.

That said, there are certainly some interesting ideas out there…

It certainly helped the cause of this stadium that the World Games are coming to Birmingham in 2021, giving those working on such a plan some time frame beyond “whenever we get around to it”. There was also some initial potential for a timeline acceleration when this stadium was considered as a home for the coming United Soccer League team, though Birmingham Legion FC has since decided to call a soon-to-be-renovated BBVA Compass Field their new home.

Either way, there is all positive here for the city of Birmingham, the UAB football program, and all supporters of those two things. That said, we need to have a separate discussion about Legion Field, so stick around for that later today.

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