New convention center may be up for vote next month

Entertainment District Downtown Tuscaloosa2

Tuscaloosa has spent plenty of time and money on figuring out if building a convention complex or sports center is worth it, but the city is getting ready to move forward on those plans.

Mayor Walt Maddox said Thursday that the goal is building something downtown, most likely next to the future Saban Center and current Tuscaloosa News building. The city wants a space that could range between 20,000 to 40,000 square feet in size, with plenty of parking and pedestrian-friendly features.

“The data supports it,” Maddox said. “Just look at last night at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. It was a sold-out crowd for Chris Stapleton.”

The amphitheater is a huge boon for Tuscaloosa, Maddox said, and a convention center would allow the city to host even bigger events.

“When you can make the right public investment, it creates an economic ripple and a quality of life ripple that is good for your community,” Maddox said.

Any land purchases or building plans must pass the full Tuscaloosa City Council, and Maddox said they could vote on the center’s design as soon as in August.