A plan to save Mobile Civic Center Arena has surfaced amidst debate over the venue’s future, but whether the plan moves forward remains to be seen.
Located in downtown Mobile, the Mobile Civic Center includes a 10,000-seat arena, 3,000-seat Expo Hall, and a 1,940-seat theater. The aging condition of the facility has prompted some discussions about redeveloping the site, including the possibility of tearing the complex down. Concerns have surfaced, however, that redevelopment of the site will not yield a replacement for civic center venues that can accommodate existing uses such as Mardis Gras balls.
On Tuesday, Mobile mayor Sandy Stimpson unveiled a plan that would leave the arena intact while allowing redevelopment to take place elsewhere on the property. Under that proposal, the Civic Center Arena would remain standing while the existing Expo Hall is demolished to make way for new housing. Elsewhere on the 22-acre site would be a Live! entertainment district, developed by Baltimore-based Cordish Cos, along with a new parking deck.
Cordish, the only firm that is discussing potential redevelopment of the site with the city, has proposed tearing the Civic Center down as part of its plan. In order for the alternate plan to move forward, Cordish would have to agree to make room for the arena while altering the site orientation of its entertainment district. Although the firm is interested in the site, Cordish and the city have not finalized a development agreement. More from AL.com:
Stimpson acknowledged that plenty of questions remain, including whether Cordish will support an altered proposal for the Civic Center site. Cordish initially suggested demolishing the Civic Center Arena and replacing it with a Live! Entertainment district that faces Spanish Plaza and Government Street.
Under the latest plan, the Live! Entertainment district would face southward and on the opposite end of Spanish Plaza.
The city does not have a development contract in place with Cordish. The company remains the sole development team interested in redesigning the Civic Center site after Covington, Louisiana-based Stirling Properties withdrew last month from consideration.
Stirling and Cordish were the only two finalists for the Civic Center redevelopment contract as part of an objective of the Stimpson administration to redevelop the entire 22-acre site into an entertainment complex.
The Mobile Civic Center first opened in 1964, with the arena undergoing its last substantial renovation in the late 1980’s.