News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2006


Domed stadium idea scary financial deal

Lame duck Jefferson County Commissioner Gary White says he's never supported a domed stadium for Birmingham and won't change his mind in his remaining five months in office.

His past support for expanding the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, but not the stadium, contributed to his defeat last week in a district of voters who thought he might be leaning in favor of the project.

Basically, the proposed $624 million project is a Jefferson County matter, but its potential for disaster should concern all Alabamians.

One reason for getting the project started now, according to BJCC board chairman Clyde Echols, is that for every month it is delayed, the cost goes up by $2 million because of raising interest rates and construction costs.

Typically, projects of this nature never finish on time and involve cost overruns. Thus, the state's largest county and city could be looking at a grand cost of something near a billion dollars.

In that scenario, officials would look to Montgomery to take over the project.

Gov. Bob Riley wisely says he's waiting for the city, county and the BJCC to present a unified plan before committing the state. He, too, must be skeptical of the project and the need for a domed stadium in a city that has no major league teams and a university that can't fill the seats at its home stadium.

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