A Birmingham City Council committee has given a thumbs up to a planned downtown sports complex next to the Railroad Park. The complex would included a baseball stadium. Mayor William Bell released details which include the revival of the Westin Hotel/shopping & entertainment project in hopes of receiving symbolic support before going before its partner in the hotel/ shopping project, the BJCC board.
Mayor Bell said there is a "tentative understanding" for a minor league baseball team to be a tenant in the ballpark. The Birmingham Barons, who left the city for Hoover in the 1980's, could not be reached for comment, but Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos says the Barons have short window to leave Regions Park. Mayor Petelos would not say how far the city would go to keep the Barons, but said the city is prepared to fill the void with its ever growing roster of sporting events.
Mayor Bell said the delayed Negro/Southern League Baseball Museum would be brought on online at the complex. The project had been planned as part of a renovation effort at Rickwood Field.
The Bell plan calls for the extension of the City's pledge to the BJCCA of $3,000,000 per year of the proceeds of the City's occupational tax and two-thirds of the City's annual lodging tax revenue which is based on the City's current lodging tax rate of 3%, not to exceed $2,000,000 per year. The City would increase its lodging tax by 3.5% to 6.5% in order to provide for development of sports and entertainment facilities to complement the Railroad Park.