Birmingham domed stadium advocate: “We don’t need public support”

There really isn’t much I can add to this lede from an article yesterday at

Birmingham will get a domed stadium in the next few years whether the public wants one or not. That was the message shared by Gene Hallman, CEO of the Bruno Event Team and Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Foundation at a Birmingham CREW luncheon on Tuesday.

“We don’t need public support,” Hallman said. “I don’t mean to be arrogant, but we aren’t running a campaign like we did in 1998 where we need a vote– we are looking to fund the stadium using existing funds from the city, county or state. The best thing we can do is just get it done and then tell people why it’s a good thing we’re doing it.”

Then, because he couldn’t help himself, Hallman told people why he was doing it anyway:

“Right now we are turning down a number of conventions and trade shows because we have nowhere for them to go,” Hallman said. “It’s shocking the number of associations that exist out there that need a place for their convention or trade show. They need to be able to make Birmingham their destination.”

This, as Heywood Sanders makes clear in his excellent new book Convention Center Follies, is an even worse idea than a city like Birmingham building a domed stadium in hopes of getting an NFL team, because there is at the moment a massive convention center glut in the U.S., to the point where many if not most cities that expand their convention facilities don’t actually get any additional convention business.

As for how Birmingham would fund a domed football stadium tapping only existing public tax dollars — what it would take to do this without a referendum — Hallman didn’t say, because he doesn’t have to tell you, okay? He just knows he doesn’t want any votin’, because last time Birmingham did that people voted the wrong way, and we can’t have that, can we?

Hallman does make one valid point, which is that if Birmingham is going to go after a team in any sports league, it should be the NFL, because “the NFL shares its revenue equally among all 31 teams,” so a small market like Birmingham could legitimately survive. Er, except for the part where the NFL has had 32 teams for the last 12 years. But hey, the guy’s been busy pushing for a domed stadium in Birmingham since 1996, you can’t really expect him to keep up with current events, now can you?

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9 comments on “Birmingham domed stadium advocate: “We don’t need public support”

  1. Please find a way to tie the Raiders into this. Please??

    If you don’t count the Lions as a pro team, then the NFL only has 31 teams.

  2. I actually went to Birmingham on New Year’s Eve two years ago. Did extensive research on Faith Chapel Christian Center. They build a concrete Monolithic dome that would fit a small hockey arena, along with a cluster of six connected concrete domes.

    In 2011, the domes took a direct hit from an EF-5 tornado. Research showed the tornado was over the dome for over a minute. Nearby homes were literally wiped off the earth, and adjacent buildings were wiped out as well. But the dome only had minor cosmetic damage. Anyone who happened to be it the dome was safe.

    Google Earth actually has timeline photos of the day before and after the tornado for Birmingham to track the path, and Faith Chapel was the focal point of the “after and before” shot. In other words, it performed far better than the SuperDome in New Orleans. The single-shell design deflects wind, there’s no focal point for the wind to focus on to damage the building.

    The point is the dome is built for far less than conventional buildings and a dome big enough for conventions or a “medium-sized” football stadium would be far less.

    But it doesn’t “look” like a modern NFL stadium and that’s why local governments balk at a more sensible building design. And thankfully the taxpayers, so far, have resisted these insane overreaches by Birmingham “leaders,” but continue to vote them into office.

  3. Hallman’s pronouncements are directed to the sheepeople, counting on the “bahh-bahh, we-want-more-more” mentality that won’t hold him to back his words with facts.
    Pro (including big-time “college”) sports worship is the opiate of the masses and hucksters like this use that weakness to foist their schemes on taxpayers.
    Wake up folks, you’re being had – again….

  4. Concrete domes are certainly very durable ( provided they’re actually sealed well and don’t have falling ceiling tiles that result in more NFL to LA relocation threats and, as Neil’s book mentions, an extreme on spending/stadium yes vote in special election ). However, my understanding is that they present some real audio challenges with comfort and the “din” of a convention being echoed like crazy.

  5. One has to wonder if Birmingham officials have approached Mark Davis to see if their locale could be an option for him to consider when he departs Oakland.

    It would seem to be very unlikely, and even if it was, Davis would demand a lead pipe-certain requirement that the dome be built, and probably be of a higher standard concerning luxury boxes, club seating, and other amenities than what is currently being imagined for a Birmingham stadium that at the moment is primarily being envisioned as at best a college bowl or NFL exhibition game level facility,

    The interim facility, Legion Field, is currently probably on a par to a large degree with the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the pre-Mt Davis Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in regard with amenities and financial possibilities, with little that could be done in the short term in terms of improvements.

    Three things would be certain however: Alabamans would flock to support the Birmingham Raiders; the Davis family would make tons of money hand over fist for years ahead; and an NFL franchise in Alabama would see the same if not greater amounts of financial support from all levels of government that the New Orleans Saints comparably enjoy in Louisiana.

    And Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide would have an additional competitor for the discretionary spending dollars of Cotton State residents — not that that would be of any circumstance …..

  6. Why would any team move to Birmingham when Los Angeles is open?

    I’m being honest here. Teams don’t share the Luxury Box money. Even substandard boxes in the Rose Bowl (or even the Oakland Colliseum) would generate way, way more money than a box in Birmingham. The corporate support just isn’t there for something like this in Alabama.

  7. “The name’s Lanley, Lyle Lanley. And I come before you good people tonight with an idea. Probably the greatest—Aw, it’s not for you. It’s more a Shelbyville idea.”

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