By a 4-3 margin on Tuesday, the Mobile City Council voted against a letter of intent to fund a new University of South Alabama football stadium.
The University of South Alabama has been pitching the construction of a new on-campus football venue, projected to cost in the range of $70-$80 million. The new South Alabama stadium would replace Ladd-Peebles Stadium as the football program’s home, and provide the university with a more modern facility.
Mobile had been asked to help contribute to the project, with the city providing $10 million to the university over 20 years to help cover its construction debt. In exchange, the university would provide $2.5 million lump sum–after the new stadium opens–to the city to address the future of Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mobile mayor Sandy Stimpson had been among the proponents of the proposal, but it ran into some concerns from members of the council. Some members did not feel that it was appropriate to give funding to the university, while others were concerned about what the plan would mean for Ladd Peebles Stadium’s future. More from AL.com:
Stimpson had pitched it as a money-saving proposition: For $10 million, the city would get access to a brand-new showplace stadium surrounded by college-campus amenities, and over the same 20-year period it would escape $33 million in maintenance expenses.
That argument definitely won the favor of some council members. Joel Daves and Gina Gregory said they were voting in favor, based on the numbers. Fred Richardson added a third vote, though his perspective was somewhat different: He favored the USA funding, but also opposed any move to downsize or demolish Ladd-Peebles.
It did not win over enough, however. Council members John Williams and Bess Rich ultimately didn’t favor directing tax dollars to the university when the city had so many needs in infrastructure and service funding. Council members C.J. Small and Levon Manzie shared that view, but also experienced constituent pressure from the neighborhoods around Ladd, where residents did not want to see a local landmark disappear or lose stature.
In a Tuesday statement attributed to South Alabama president Tony Waldrop and athletics director Joel Erdmann, it was indicated that the school’s “leadership is exploring all possible avenues of funding for the stadium, and we anticipate that we will continue to generate interest in the stadium among individuals and private organizations.” It was also indicated that the school is moving forward with site preparation work for the stadium. The full statement can be viewed below:
Five yes votes were needed among the council for approval. Ladd-Peebles Stadium, which originally opened in 1948, has been the home of South Alabama football since the program began play in 2009.
Rendering courtesy University of South Alabama athletics.
RELATED STORIES: University of South Alabama Stadium Vote Could be Tied to Ladd-Peebles Stadium Measure; Officials Want More Information on Ladd-Peebles Stadium’s Future; South Alabama Stadium Funding Proposal Closer to Vote; City, County Contributions Sought for South Alabama Stadium; Trustees Approve New South Alabama Stadium Resolution; New South Alabama Stadium “Feasible,” Says School President