I’m absolutely thrilled we are building a new baseball stadium downtown. When I was a child my dad took me to see the Barons play at Rickwood Field. Watching baseball with my dad created memories I will never forget.
I saw the Barons play teams like the Nashville Vols, the New Orleans Pelicans, the Memphis Chicks, and the Atlanta Crackers.
These were our peer cities.
Now the Barons play the
• Chattanooga Lookouts
• Huntsville Stars
• Jackson Generals
• Jacksonville Sun
• Mississippi Braves (Pearl)
• Mobile Bay Bears
• Montgomery Biscuits
• Pensacola Wahoos
• Tennessee Smokies (Knoxville)
These are our current peer cities.
And our government structure is right at the heart of our baseball downfall.
In 1988 owner Art Clarkson got into a fight with Mayor Richard Arrington and moved the Barons to Hoover.
Clarkson solicited money from Hoover to snatch the Barons away from Birmingham.
Because we have so many competing municipalities we take economic development monies that could have been used to bring companies to our region and steal existing companies from one another. This is the ultimate in wasted public funds.
And in a sense, even though I’m glad we are doing it, the City of Birmingham is investing $64 million dollars in Regions Park to entice the Barons away from Hoover.
And notice how we developed our vision for our new stadium. We watched with envy as the Montgomery Biscuits built a new stadium in downtown Montgomery and followed their lead. We are now envious of cities like Montgomery and Chattanooga.
And what happened to the teams I watched in my childhood. Nashville, New Orleans and Memphis all have AAA teams (Birmingham is AA) and the Atlanta Braves play in the majors. All four cities have major sports franchises—Birmingham has none.
Look how far we have fallen.
David Sher’s goal is to create a conversation on how to fix our fragmented and dysfunctional local government.
David Sher is a partner in Buzz12 Content Marketing and co-CEO of AmSher Receivables Management. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (ONB), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).