In a rapidly developing bit of business, the Birmingham City Council will hear a pitch to raise the city’s lodging tax to build a new ballpark in downtown Birmingham’s Railroad Park complex for the Birmingham Barons (Class AA; Southern League) and possibly the SEC tournament.
Though the idea of the Barons actually playing in Birmingham has bounces around for months — the Barons play at Regions Park in suburban Hoover (shown above) — this is the first time we’ve seen anything close to a solid proposal for a new downtown ballpark. A study commissioned in April was designed to determine whether a downtown ballpark was feasible; apparently it is.
Getting the Barons back as well as the SEC would be a coup for Birmingham. The Barons are among the top draws in the Southern League, and the SEC tourney drew almost 10,000 fans a game for the 2010 tourney. So we know whatever ballpark is planned for Railroad Park would need to seat 11,000 or so. Raising the hotel tax by 3.5 percent points would more than double it (it’s at 3 percent currently, certainly among the lowest rates among major cities). It doesn’t sounds like this is a project fueled by a developer, but rather by the city itself.
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