By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
The Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex board on Wednesday approved an operating agreement with Live Nation, a national entertainment partner, to put a 9,000-seat, $50 million amphitheater downtown on track to be open in two years.
Live Nation is now officially set to manage an amphitheater set for construction as part of the Carraway Hospital redevelopment in Birmingham’s North Side.
The BJCC, city of Birmingham, Jefferson County and Live Nation have now all agreed to help finance construction of the amphitheater, for a total of $20 million. Site work is expected to begin by the end of this year, and the amphitheater is scheduled to open in spring 2025.
Tad Snider, CEO of the BJCC, said the agreement is the result of much collaboration.
“This is the culmination of a yearlong effort to bring together the partners and the necessary resources to make this project a reality. It shows yet again that our community can accomplish great things when we work together,” Snider said.
The agreement puts Live Nation in charge of all operations of the planned facility for 20 years, with the option of two five-year renewals. Snider said the BJCC plans to have its first show at the amphitheater in the summer of 2025.
Live Nation has been a significant provider of programming for the BJCC, both at Legacy Arena and the Concert Hall, said the CEO. The agreement shows the strength of the partnership between the two entities, he said.
“We’ve had a great history with them. This conversation has obviously been going on for a while just because it’s a complex operating agreement, but to kind of get to this point today, I think everybody’s very excited,” Snider said.
Jordan Zachary, co-president of U.S. concerts for Live Nation, said the amphitheater will be “a great community asset for Birmingham.”
“We are excited to partner with the BJCC to bring best-in-class entertainment and an amazing hospitality experience to both residents and visitors,” Zachary said.
With financing now finished, Snider said the next steps are some basic site work, as well as design and construction. Design is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early next year, and construction is set to start early 2024.
While Snider described the Wednesday decisions as a “tipping point” for the project, he said each step of the process is critical. “Every one of those things have to continue to be met all along, so you never really get to relax or breathe until that first show,” he said.
The amphitheater would be a component of the Star at Uptown redevelopment at the old Carraway Hospital site. It would also complement recent investments that have been made to build a new stadium at the BJCC, to modernize Legacy Arena and to develop the nearby City Walk BHAM.