BJCC head Tad Snider weighs in on the prospects of the convention center expansion and a new outdoor stadium.
What is the most important thing Birmingham should realize about the new expansion and the stadium?
One very important element of the plans under consideration is that the projects are an investment in the modernization and renovation of Legacy Arena, investment in the convention center and meeting space as well as the proposed stadium. It’s not just a new stadium, it’s not just renovation of the Arena. The plan invests in positioning the BJCC to not only retain but grow the economic impact to the city generated by events at the BJCC by enhancing tourism opportunities bringing visitors to Birmingham.
The BJCC has been a key player in hosting entertainment, sports, conventions and meetings in Birmingham for over 40 years. We strive to create the opportunity for the BJCC to be a proud reflection of Birmingham for many years to come. These projects we feel will begin to re-establish the BJCC and its long and storied history of providing memorable events for our city and region.
Where does this plan place Birmingham in terms of its convention and meeting competitiveness with other cities?
The growth and revitalization of Birmingham has certainly been important in marketing Birmingham to decision makers considering Birmingham for their meeting or special event. So many factors relating to competitiveness of a destination come down to aspects beyond facilities—such as hotels, restaurants, retail, walkability, air access and local transportation. While Birmingham has always had so much to offer a visitor, development and energy in recent years has really opened the eyes of many when considering Birmingham.
That said, facilities are important, and the plans to enhance the whole of the BJCC will allow us to be more competitive and attract more visitors, special events and entertainment to Birmingham, expanding the economic impact of tourism to the city in the process.
Do you see these plans as the culmination of a long period of work? Do you feel like this is a signature achievement?
In our industry one can never settle for a sense of a culmination of work. While high profile projects create awareness and visibility of special moments in time, consistent and constant evolution is a signature of our industry.
Just look at some of our neighboring cities that are expanding, enhancing or in some cases tearing down and rebuilding venues and facilities that are not as old as ours.
An important aside to that, however, is that not everything that creates a great destination or product relates to the bricks and mortar. Exceptional service, exceptional experiences while visiting a venue and all the elements that relate to people are equally important, and continuing to focus on and evolve both the product and the team of people who deliver the experience to our guests are equally important to continually evolve and improve.
What is your confidence level that all of the intermediate steps can be met and construction begin?
We have a unique opportunity in front of us that is truly a story of partnership and collaboration among the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, the Legislative Delegation for Jefferson County, UAB, the Birmingham corporate community and the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Authority. The collaboration and investment by all the partners is a special story and we are optimistic the remaining steps can be navigated successfully. There have been very positive takeaways already throughout the discussions, dialog and interaction with all of the partners that I know the BJCC has found to very valuable. We greatly appreciate all of the partners as it’s only because of them the project has progressed to the stage it has.