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  #81  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2007, 2:36 PM
Biscuit97 Biscuit97 is offline
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Can someone explain the benefit of a 40,000 seat arena? I love the idea of the hotels and the entertainment district, but just don't see the point of a 40,000 seat arena. I think they should either do the big dome like was previouly planned or not do an arena at all. Some may argue we are after an NBA team, but that isn't at all likely to happen. There simply isn't enough interest in the NBA to support a team.
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  #82  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2007, 4:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Biscuit97 View Post
Can someone explain the benefit of a 40,000 seat arena? I love the idea of the hotels and the entertainment district, but just don't see the point of a 40,000 seat arena. I think they should either do the big dome like was previouly planned or not do an arena at all. Some may argue we are after an NBA team, but that isn't at all likely to happen. There simply isn't enough interest in the NBA to support a team.
Their thinking is mostly that of a compromise. The city and BJCC want a 65,000-seat dome. But the county sees that as wasteful spending seeing as how there's really only 1 event that draws over 40,000 people in a given year-- the Magic City Classic. The others draw 40,000 or less (UAB football- 22,000 per game, SWAC Championship- 25,000 per game, PapaJohn's.com Bowl- 30,000, etc etc.) So they're thinking "hmm... let's drop the capacity such that we save about $100M thereby making it more popular to the fiscally conservative county commission whose assistance in funding is GREATLY needed." While I understand the thinking, it does seem a bit short-sighted, but how does one deal then with a commission that is unwilling to compromise or even entertain the idea of a 65,000-seat dome.

Legion Field is, for the most part, crumbling. Not just the stadium itself, but the surrounding area. People don't feel safe going there anymore... and that, in part, has hurt those attendance numbers of the events I've listed above. Some of those fears are well-founded and some are just perpetuated by stereotypes and negative publicity in the media. Either way, it's a struggle to host any decent event at Legion Field outside of the Magic City Classic.

Then of course, there's the problem that our current 17,000-capacity arena is too small for alot of events anymore. Many bigger events (basketball and such) require a minimum of 19,000. So that leaves us with an overly-large outdoor stadium in a bad part of town with ZERO entertainment, hotels, etc. nearby and an ever-growingly obsolete arena attached to the BJCC.

It's abundantly clear to me that the hotels, entertainment, expansion of convention space, and upgrades to current facilities MUST happen. The dome/arena thing can continue to be debated if they like. But these other things are necessary if the downtown area expects to continue to progress at an even respectable rate. Man oh man do I wish we could just have the FBI come in and rip every politician out of this city and region and bring in some outsiders that aren't so corrupt and ultraconservative just for the sake of being ultraconservative.
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  #83  
Old Posted Feb 28, 2007, 5:42 PM
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Thanks for the response.

I whole-heartedly agree with your last paragraph. Birmingham has got to move forward and bring in some entertainment to the downtown area. I love the fact that the Beale Street developers will be working with the City of Birmingham on this development. However, it seems like this compromise is going to turn out to be one in which no one is really happy. Those wanting fiscal conservatism are still going to dump a lot money in to a new arena and those wanting the dome to attract other events and such are going to a get an arena that is not really large enough to attract events that aren't already held in Birmingham. Oh well, at least the entertainment district looks like it is going to get done.
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  #84  
Old Posted Mar 5, 2007, 4:39 PM
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At least SOMETHING might finally be about to come through...

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Park funds back on track
Jeffco expected to give $2.5 million for Railroad Reservation project Monday, March 05, 2007
BARNETT WRIGHT
News staff writer

Jefferson County commissioners plan to provide $2.5 million for the Railroad Reservation Park, allowing construction to begin by fall, supporters of the project say.

The county's money will go with $6 million raised so far by the private sector.

The commission's finance committee will consider a resolution today to provide the funding, and all three members of the panel said they were likely to vote in favor.

Commissioners Bettye Fine Collins, Jim Carns and Bobby Humphryes, who make up the committee, have said previous funding commitments are being reconsidered, including an agreement with the City of Birmingham to provide money for the park.

With the county's funding in place, the city will contribute $7.5 million, city officials have said.

Collins, the commission president, said she will vote for the park because questions about private funding were answered last week. Commissioners Larry Langford and Shelia Smoot said they also will vote for the park.

Van Richey, president and CEO of ACIPCO and chairman of the Community Foundation, told the commission that he has contacted nine foundations and "every one of those has committed money toward the project."

"The Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham has committed $1 million toward the project," he said. "Our goal is to raise $6 million from these nine foundations. We are confident we can do that."

Claude Nielsen, chief executive of Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United, said volunteers from the business community were raising money for the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, Red Mountain Park and the Railroad Park, which he called the community's "three anchor parks."

"We are in an early, quiet phase of raising capital with a goal of $12 million from the private sector," he said. "To this point we have communicated with eight prospective donors, six of whom have committed $4.3 million, two have indicated an interest of another $900,000. That will get us to about $5.2 million out of a goal of $12 million from the private sector."

Giles Perkins, president of Friends of the Railroad District, a nonprofit group, said he was pleased that "all the pieces are coming together. This is a great day for the park. The only way we're going to get this done is to have the city, county and private sector working together."

HB Brantley of Brantley Visioneering, the project manager hired last July on the project, said it was imperative that the two local governments put their money in place to spur private-sector donations.

"It's honorable that the county is contributing public dollars for this project that will affect the quality of life for residents in the region," he said. "It shows the public sector's commitment to the greening of Birmingham."

The park will be built downtown from 14th Street South to 18th Street South and from First Avenue South to Morris Avenue. It is expected to be a recreational attraction as well as an economic incubator, with residential and commercial projects planned.

Brantley told the commission that the project will cost $21.7 million - $16.7 million for construction, $3 million for property acquisition and $2 million for fees.

He said a fully functioning park with lakes, trails, gardens, kiosks and a public art and adventure playground should be complete by December 2008.

E-mail: bwright@bhamnews.com
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  #85  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 2:06 AM
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High end in Five Pts.
Hotel Highland to target upscale market
Birmingham Business Journal - March 9, 2007 by Lauren B. Cooper Staff


Renovations continue on the old Pickwick Hotel in Five Points South. Its new name will be the Highland Hotel and will feature a martini bar, developers say.
View Larger Developers of the renovated Pickwick Hotel in Birmingham's Southside will call their new boutique offering The Hotel Highland @ Five Points South.

Currently undergoing a $7 million renovation, the historic property is being transformed into a high-end boutique hotel by Atlanta-based Long and Cox Properties Inc., Denver-based Richfield Hospitality Inc. and Birmingham's Peggy Dye & Associates.


Long and Cox announced in November the hotel had been purchased and was to be renovated, but at the time its name and many of the details were not disclosed.

Slated to open early May, the 63-room property is being transformed into a high-end destination hotel, with modern guestrooms, a martini bar and a state-of-the-art fitness room.

"The new ownership of the hotel is making a significant capital commitment to the property," said Tom Conran, Richfield's vice president of development, in a prepared statement. "We are very excited to be a part of such an ambitious project and our team is confident that the emergence of The Hotel Highland @ Five Points South will quickly become a destination of choice as the only upscale boutique hotel in the Five Points South area of downtown Birmingham."

Mark Hucek, corporate director of sales and marketing for Richfield, said although the hotel will be geared towards an upper-middle-class traveler, prices for rooms will be competitive for the area, ranging from $159 for a regular room to $179 for a suite.

This is the third life for the building, which was originally built as a medical office building in 1919 and later renovated into a hotel in 1984. When the building became a hotel, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Touting a chic and luxurious atmosphere, all 63 guestrooms will be renovated to include marble and granite bathrooms, new modern furniture and LCD TVs. Twenty-eight rooms are suites, which additionally will receive small appliances.

The hotel's martini bar will front 20th Street with a street entrance and will be located where the Pickwick had its breakfast room. The breakfast room will move to the hotel's courtyard area, company officials said.

Garnering recent culinary attention from national newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, the Five Points South area is home to numerous white-tablecloth restaurants, those known for attracting both local and national upscale clientele.

All of renowned chef Frank Stitt's restaurants - Highland's Bar and Grill, Chez Fonfon and Bottega Restaurant and Café - are located in Southside. Other celebrated eateries include Hot and Hot Fish Club, Ocean and its sister restaurant 26.

"If you look at the Five Points area, individuals drive in from Atlanta to have dinner and then they go home," Hucek said. "We believe this area is having a second resurgence with these restaurants. Hopefully, (the hotel) will help that area rebound even further."


David Parker, general manager of Highland's Bar and Grill, said he is excited about having a boutique hotel nearby that he can recommend to out-of-town customers, not to mention the possibilities it will bring for the area.

"Anytime you have existing restaurants and businesses renovating, it encourages everyone else," he said. "It's one of those things, if you clean one window you want to clean another. We're all in historic buildings down here and they need a lot of love and tenderness."

Interior designer for the new hotel, Peggy Dye & Associates, has been based in Birmingham since its founding in 1981. Since then, Dye has designed for numerous hotel brands, including Holiday Inn, Residence Inn, Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites and Marriott Renaissance, and currently is working on 20 different hotel projects across the country, she said.

Richfield Development said Dye, as an equity partner in the hotel, will consider The Hotel Highland her "showplace."

Developer Long and Cox specializes in development of properties in the hotel and lodging industry.

According to Richfield Hospitality's Web site, the Hotel Highland's management company oversees more than 5,000 rooms across the country for brands such as Hilton, Starwood, Intercontinental and Choice, in addition to several boutique and independent hotels.

lbcooper@bizjournals.com (205) 443-5635
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  #86  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 4:15 PM
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Big News on NBC13 regarding the BJCC Dome. NBC13 is reporting that a group of private investors, including someone out of Salt Lake City, showed up to City Hall and laid out a plan where said investors would pledge 1.5 billion dollars towards the dome/convention center development. The development would include a 75,000 seat dome, retail, restaurants, luxury hotel, and even a residential area. The City Council has requested a meeting this week to further discuss the proposal. The reporter stated that this group of investors has the 1.5 billion ready to spend, whether it be Birmingham or some other city.
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  #87  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 4:35 PM
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What?! Link?!
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  #88  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 5:17 PM
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It was breaking news on the 11:30 news break, so I doubt there is a link yet. I think they are doing a full story on one of tonight's broadcast.
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  #89  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 5:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Biscuit97 View Post
It was breaking news on the 11:30 news break, so I doubt there is a link yet. I think they are doing a full story on one of tonight's broadcast.
DOME IT UP! DOME IT UP! YEAH!!!! YEAH!!!! YEAH!!!!

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  #90  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 5:54 PM
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From BHM News

The Birmingham City Council wants the BJCC to meet later this week with a consultant who said today that she has $1.5 billion pledged by investors who want to build a 70,000-seat dome and an entertainment district at the BJCC.
Carol Forge Hatcher made a presentation at the City Council meeting, and said she had not been given a full audience with the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Board. The council passed a resolution urging the BJCC board to meeting with Hatcher.
Board chairman Clyde Echols said the BJCC welcomes any proposals from developers interested in helping build the proposed expansion and has given Hatcher plenty of opportunities to share her plans.
Last year, the full BJCC board heard a presentation from Hatcher about a proposed $500 million hotel she wanted to build adjacent to the complex. She said that her project was not being taken seriously because she was black. The board requested more information on who her financial backers were and didn't hear from her again until a few months ago when the BJCC began serious discussions about an entertainment district with Performa Entertainment Group, the Memphis developer of Beale Street, Echols said.
Hatcher then called and said she was working with The Nexus Group, a Utah developer interested in building the BJCC entertainment district. While at its Salt Lake City retreat last month, BJCC Executive Director Jack Fields and board attorney Tom Stewart met with Hatcher and The Nexus Group and toured some of their developments there, Echols said.
"The BJCC has been fair in dealing with Ms. Hatcher," Echols said.
Fields said he told Hatcher before meeting with her group partners in Utah that the BJCC had already signed a letter of intent with Performa to develop the entertainment district. He said Hatcher is welcome to build a hotel at the BJCC because the complex needs lots of extra hotel rooms to meet demand.

Joseph Bryant and Roy Williams
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  #91  
Old Posted Mar 13, 2007, 10:23 PM
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This a very interesting development and definitely worth pursuing. I think if this were totally funded by the private sector, most of the conservatives would be on board. I think most of the more liberal leaders would be for it as well. If this person and group of investors are legitimate, I say let's look very hard at this situation. You can't just push away a $1.5B investment opportunity without even investigating it.
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  #92  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2007, 2:16 AM
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I say, Who is this masked lady with $1.5 billion in her hip pocket?

Can I hear $1.75 billion?
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  #93  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2007, 2:41 PM
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It may be in the suburbs (actually Hoover to be exact), but I read in an article today that in April, developers plan to break ground on a 10-story Embassy Suites that would be located on John Hawkins Parkway (ie, Highway 150) and right near the Riverchase Galleria.
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  #94  
Old Posted Mar 14, 2007, 9:17 PM
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BTW... has anyone heard anything recently about the Fed. Reserve development?

I was doing some digging around looking at some of the other Lexington Collection Hotels and found this one in Orlando.



Certainly no guarantee the Birmingham version would look like this, but it looks pretty neat to me.
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  #95  
Old Posted Mar 19, 2007, 3:09 PM
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I think this is a terrific idea. The area around the Civil Rights District has long been neglected by investors and redevelopment teams. Besides the money they're looking to put into the project, I really like the idea. Something like this could also spur on some restaurants or other retail to spring up nearby. Hopefully no one messes this up or tries to stand in its way... I can't imagine any reason why they would, but you never know in this city.

Quote:
Developer may restore Gaston Motel
$40 million project would bring hotel, retail to Civil Rights district
Monday, March 19, 2007JOSEPH D. BRYANTNews staff writer

Birmingham's Civil Rights District would get an upscale hotel, retail, meeting space and lofts as part of a $40 million project to renovate the A.G. Gaston Motel.

San Francisco investment banker Calvin Grigsby, CEO of Grigsby & Associates, met Friday with Mayor Bernard Kincaid's staff where he presented a plan to overhaul the district, with the shuttered historic Gaston Motel as the centerpiece.

"It will generate around it an entire revitalization of that area," Grigsby said.

Grigsby represents St. Louis developer Michael V. Roberts, chairman and chief executive of the Roberts Companies. Roberts, a lawyer, has a business empire that includes eight hotels, television stations, office buildings, loft apartments, a shopping center and a wireless company, Roberts Wireless Communications. He chairs the National Association of Black Hotel Owners and serves on the board of the International Association of Shopping Centers. Roberts visited Birmingham last month and expressed interest in the city following his appearance at the A.G. Gaston Economic Empowerment Conference.

"Mike agreed to find the finance team and build it," Grigsby said. Grigsby last week opened an office downtown to establish a local presence.

"Mike's got me down here to do the feasibility performance," Grigsby said. "This project is worthwhile."

In his proposal, Grigsby is asking the city for about $9 million in incentives that include $3 million cash and $6 million in rebates from property tax. Work could begin on the project this summer, Grigsby said

Kincaid said his staff will meet with Grigsby again next week.

"They're doing number-crunching at this time," Kincaid said. "We'll do whatever is reasonable to make this happen. What it would mean for that side of downtown would be just wonderful."

Kincaid called Michael Roberts and his company an American success story that he hopes will find additional prosperity in Birmingham.

"The fact that we have a minority firm makes me very excited, and this is a firm that presents credentials," he said.

The city currently owns the Gaston Motel and has allocated more than $300,000 in recent years to maintain and secure the building.

The proposal calls for a new hotel on the west side of the old motel, along with a commercial building to be used as a conference center. The property abuts the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which receives about 140,000 visitors a year from 40 countries.

Grigsby said the new buildings would be connected to the motel, which will be redeveloped into an interactive museum.

Built in 1954 by the famed entrepreneur, the Gaston Motel was one of few motels for black customers and became a meeting place for civil rights leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth.

"Once he saw the A.G. Gaston project, he was simply giddy," said Councilman William Bell, who gave his friend Roberts a tour of the city. "I've known Mr. Grigsby and Mr. Roberts for some time now, and they're very creative in finding ways for projects to work in the inner city."

Councilman Steven Hoyt, chairman of the council's economic development committee, has also met with Roberts and his team.

"We have longed to have African-Americans to really have interest in investing in Birmingham," he said. "This is a great opportunity not only for the historical downtown, but also to set a new precedent."

Kincaid said he was especially pleased the developers want to highlight the historic significance of the original motel, which was bombed in 1963.

Grigsby said his office identified $3 million in savings for the city with the refinancing of bonds. The city is expected to go back to the bond market within a few weeks, and Grigsby said his financial model would yield the extra unanticipated cash.

"I discovered this as a way to find money to do the project," he said.

E-mail: jbryant@bhamnews.com
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  #96  
Old Posted Mar 19, 2007, 7:29 PM
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It is interesting that there were no serious plans to developed the Civil Rights area until recently. There were plans to place phase II of the Metropolitan Gardens HOPE VI development adjacent to the area but they are now slated for construction near Lakeshore Parkway. It's good considering they will still be within the city limits but I'm still disappointed the city couldn't address the developer's concerns about the property - and yes, I partially blame Kincaid's poor leadership.

Both projects could have complimented each other nicely and would have done nothing but boost the image of the Civil Rights Institute and 4th Avenue Historic District -- something that I believe should have happened a long time ago, especially since Atlanta seems to be moving forward with plans to build their own Civil Rights museum. But I digress. In any case, I'm glad to see this plan coming together. It will be a welcome addition to the downtown landscape.
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  #97  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2007, 4:11 AM
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This is a Metro Birmingham project, but it sounds pretty cool anyway...

Quote:
Hoover Council approves federal computer institute
Posted by Birmingham News staff March 19, 2007 22:03PM

The Hoover City Council tonight authorized Mayor Tony Petelos to sign contracts to allow the U.S. Secret Service a rent-free six-year lease in the Hoover Public Safety Center. The Secret Service will operate the National Computer Forensic Institute, which is expected to bring about 1,000 trainees to the city each year.

The state will spend $5 million to build the center's facilities, which will occupy 33,000 square feet in the Public Safety Center. The Shelby County Commission will spend up to $250,000 on architect fees. Should the center leave within the first three years, Hoover would have to reimburse the state and county 40 percent of their costs.

Mike Cason
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  #98  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2007, 12:25 AM
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Brasfield & Gorrie gets UAB hospital contract
Posted by Birmingham News business staff March 20, 2007 17:16PM

The executive committee of the University of Alabama System board of trustees awarded an $87.7 million contract Tuesday to Brasfield & Gorrie for the outside construction work of UAB Hospital's Women and Infants' Facility and radiation oncology center.

The cost also includes a design-build management fee and architectural design of the interior. Site work already has started and construction is expected to begin later this spring.

Brasfield & Gorrie submitted the low bid in January. The executive committee will vote again when the hospital gets bids for the interior construction.

The women's facility and radiation center will be on the city block between 5th and 6th Avenues South and 17th and 18th streets.

Anna Velasco
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  #99  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2007, 3:36 AM
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Found a good one from The Birminghamster from a few days ago





Board Opts For Half-Dome
Salt Lake City, UT (JM) - The Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex Authority, while on their annual retreat in Salt Lake City, Utah, formally adopted a resolution calling for plans to be developed for a reduced vision of their former proposal for an 80,000-seat multi-purpose covered event facility as part of an expansion of the BJCC.

The current proposal, dubbed a 'Half Dome', would have 40,000 seats, all on one side of the field. This would make it easier to use the facility for major conventions, concerts and other events while also providing room for future expansion should the board ever be able to purchase the necessary adjoining property.

Critics were quick to compare this half-dome proposal with one that was publicized seven years ago for Vulcan Park, but organizers say that the current proposal is so disimilar as to render comparisons fruitless. "It's half-apples and half-oranges," said BJCC director Jack Fields.

Jefferson County Commission president Bettye Fine Collins, who is a member of the BJCC board, insisted that, even though the half-dome is not primarily a sports arena, it would be designed to allow for a football configuration. It is expected that UAB would become one of the tenants for the new facility. Recently-appointed athletic director Brian Mackin said he had not seen the specifics and that UAB was still pursuing an on-campus field for home games. "But for the big games when Mississippi State or one of the big boys comes to town, it would be very handy to have a venue with 40,000 seats on the visitor's side."

There is every indication that the city of Birmingham will half-honor its commitment, as well as Jefferson County. With each of those entities contributing half of the cost (which is expected to be about half of the previously-projected cost of an 80,000 seat stadium), all that remains is for the State of Alabama to contribute its half so that Brantley Visioneering can be contracted to develop a project schedule.
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  #100  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2007, 5:32 AM
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that is ugly. what kind of football game would be in there. they need to rethink
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