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Riley's inauguration split between 2 cities with ball in Birmingham

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Gov. Bob Riley's inauguration Jan. 15 will be split between two cities, with the swearing-in ceremony and parade in Montgomery and the inaugural ball in Birmingham, possibly the first time it has been held outside the state capital.

The ball's traditional site, the Montgomery Civic Center, is closed for expansion, and no other suitable site could be found at a reasonable cost in Montgomery, state Rep. Mike Hubbard, the inaugural committee chairman, said Tuesday.

The ball will be at 8 p.m. Jan. 15 at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, but there will be plenty of time for people to
drive from Montgomery for the event, he said.

A few states scatter inaugural festivities across several cities, but Alabama governors have traditionally done the swearing-in ceremony, parade and ball in Montgomery.

Norwood Kerr, reference archivist for the state Department of Archives and History, searched inaugural records Tuesday and said he could find no other occasion where the inaugural ball was outside the capital city.

"We can add that to our list of interesting things" about Alabama inaugurations, he said.

Hubbard, who also headed Riley's 2003 inauguration, said, "Everything will be in Montgomery except the ball."

With the Civic Center closed, Hubbard said, the inaugural committee looked at the
state-owned Garrett Coliseum, which is normally home to horse shows and rodeos. He said it was ruled out because of the lack of a climate-control system and concerns about whether the anticipated crowd of more than 4,000 people could be seated on its floor.

Hubbard, R-Auburn, looked into erecting a tent-like structure with portable kitchens and restrooms at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, but he said the costs — more than $200,000 — caused that plan to be scrapped.

"It makes no sense to spend that much money for a three-hour party," he said.

Riley will take the oath of office at noon on the Capitol steps and then the inaugural parade will proceed along Dexter Avenue in front of the Capitol. That will end mid-afternoon.

"There is plenty of time for people who want to do all of it," Hubbard said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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