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THURSDAY, JANUARY 13, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Domed stadium could become doomed stadium

Birmingham's pipe dream of a domed stadium and convention complex/entertainment district is no concern of ours until folks there want state tax dollars.

Then it becomes serious and demands answers not yet given to specific questions.

The list might start with telling who besides The University of Alabama at Birmingham would play football in the 70,000-seat dome.

The Crimson Tide isn't coming back from Tuscaloosa and Auburn University never felt at home in Legion Field. So count them out, too. UAB only needs about 15,000 seats for its shirttail following.

Birmingham officials recently asked Gov. Bob Riley for a one-time $75-million contribution or to pledge $5 million a year for 30 years to help finance the nearly $1-billion complex that would also expand the civic center and create an entertainment district.

Birmingham is not a national convention destination, and building a domed stadium isn't likely to change attitudes about the city.

In the South, people had rather go to Atlanta and New Orleans.

The governor wisely said no, but gently, to Birmingham when he promised to help find other ways the state may be of assistance.

Birmingham can't succeed by trying to copy other cities, especially those that have major league professional sports. Birmingham needs to find its niche and pump that money into being the best in that field.

Birmingham leaders could look south across First Avenue to the UAB medical complex for a good suggestion.

While they are attempting to spend millions on sports and partying, UAB is losing its luster as a leading medical research center. Georgia and Emory University have lured away some of UAB's best and brightest with more money and better facilities.

Just think what Birmingham could be if its leaders decided medical research is its niche and city leaders decided to be No. 1.

Birmingham's focus is wrong and a domed stadium, while it would be nice, has the potential to go the way of the VisionLand boondoggle.

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