|Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex|
Exterior view of the complex (c.2011)
|Address||2100 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N|
Birmingham, AL 35203-1102
|Owner||Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Authority|
($711 million in 2018 dollars)
|Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center (1976-98)|
|51 (Medical Forum Classroom E)|
|Banquet/ballroom||2,900 (Sheraton Ballroom)|
1,780 (East Ballroom)
2,835 (Concert hall)
275 (Forum Theater)
|• Exhibit hall floor||220,000 square feet (20,000 m2)|
|• Breakout/meeting||100,000 square feet (9,300 m2)|
|• Ballroom||40,522 square feet (3,800 m2)|
The Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex (formerly known as Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center) is a sports, convention and entertainment complex located in Birmingham, Alabama. The Sheraton Birmingham and Westin Birmingham are located on the complex adjoining the convention center. Alongside numerous exhibit halls, meeting and ballrooms, the complex features three entertainment venues: an arena, concert hall, and theater. Construction on a fourth venue, a college football stadium, is set to start in the second half of 2019.
Design and architecture
The Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center was designed by Geddes Brecher Qualls Cunningham, the winner of what was, at the time, the largest open architectural competition ever organized by the American Institute of Architects. The original facility was built between 1974 and 1976 for approximately US$104 million. A.G. Gaston Construction Company, Inc. served as contractors.
A critical component of the competition program was making a viable connection across the elevated I-59/I-20 highway from the Civic Center facility to the existing administrative and cultural facilities surrounding Linn Park to the south. No satisfactory solution to that problem has ever been carried out.
Part of Birmingham's "City Center Master Plan" envisions replacing the existing elevated highway with a below-grade corridor which would simplify interstate access to the downtown area, mitigate the noise and visual effects of highway traffic, and allow for a landscaped plaza to bridge over the highway. If carried out, this plan would finally create the connection between the BJCC and Linn Park.
Multiple plans to expand the complex have been presented. An attempt by former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford to build a large domed stadium was mostly unsuccessful. The BJCC authority has purchased several parcels of land required for that expansion, but the project still does not have major financial backing and lacks a clear design. Birmingham mayor William Bell has expressed some interest in building a domed stadium, but on a smaller scale. The Alabama Department of Transportation has begun preliminary work to replace the aging I-20/59 elevated viaduct adjacent to the complex. The project involves the reuse of some right-of-way to improve interstate ramps, which may interfere with plans to build a multipurpose stadium at the complex's current site.
Legacy Arena (formerly known as the BJCC Coliseum until February 1999 and the BJCC Arena until December 2014), seats 17,654 for sporting events, 19,000 for concerts and 8,000 in a theater setting. It has been the home to ice hockey, college basketball and arena football teams in Birmingham.
It was home of the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA from 1976 to 1981 and another version of the Birmingham Bulls of the ECHL from 1992 to 2001. It was also home to the UAB men's basketball team starting in 1978 before the team moved into Bartow Arena in 1988. The Alabama Steeldogs, an af2 team, played in the arena from 2000 to 2007.
The arena has hosted major concert tours, Disney on Ice, American Idol Live!, the PBR Built Ford Tough Series, Monster Jam, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and other events including trade shows.
Construction of a new football stadium on the BJCC grounds, planned to seat 55,000, is scheduled to begin in late summer or early fall 2019. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held on December 13, 2018. Once completed, the new stadium, to be known as Protective Stadium due to a sponsorship deal with the Birmingham-based Protective Life insurance company, will be home to UAB Blazers football. If completed in time for the 2021 World Games, it will serve as that event's main stadium.
The 2,835 -seat BJCC Concert Hall was the home of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra before moving to UAB's state of the art Alys Stephens Center. Concerts and touring Broadway and family shows are also held here. It features a 84-foot (26 m)-by-88-foot (25.5-x-27-m) stage with a 24-foot-(7.3 m)-tall proscenium. Its grid height of 105 feet (32 m) makes the concert hall the tallest building in the complex. There is also a pipe organ at the Concert Hall, and backstage there are 2 chorus rooms and 12 dressing rooms, as well as two rehearsal areas and a VIP Reception Room.
The 1,000-seat BJCC Theater is used for operas, ballets, and smaller concerts and stage shows, and is also home to the Birmingham Children's Theatre, the nation's largest children's theater. The theater contains a 46-by-70-foot (14-by-21-meter) stage and a grid height of 58 feet (17.5 m). There are 2 rehearsal areas, 2 chorus dressing rooms and 6 dressing rooms, including a star's dressing room.
The 220,000-square-foot (20,000 m2) Exhibition Hall is used for Birmingham's largest trade shows and conventions. It is divisible into three smaller halls and can accommodate 1100 exhibit booths.
The complex contains 64 meeting rooms totaling 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of meeting space, including a 16,000-square-foot (1,500 m2) ballroom that can seat up to 1,200 for banquets. The ten-story Medical Forum, with meeting space, a 275-seat theater, classrooms, conference space, and offices, is also located here. The adjacent 838-room Sheraton Birmingham Hotel provides a large ballroom and other convention and meeting facilities nearby. The Sheraton also housed the COGIC AIM Convention Youth Services in 2012. The 294-room Westin Birmingham Hotel within the Uptown entertainment district provides more than 7,000 square feet of flexible meeting space and an additional 2,500 square feet of pre-function space.
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