The year was 2010 and the event was the opening of Railroad Park.
You would expect William Bell, the mayor of Birmingham, to be one of the speakers, but next to him was Tony Petelos, the then mayor of Hoover. Mayor Petelos spoke enthusiastically about the new park and the future of our Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area.
I had never witnessed a mayor from an adjacent municipality celebrate the success of a major development within the city limits of Birmingham.
But it didn’t stop there.
About the same time, the owners of the Birmingham Barons made the decision to move the team from Hoover to the soon to be built Regions Field in Birmingham.
I’m not sure Mayor Petelos and the Hoover City Council were happy, but when the announcement was made, Hoover responded graciously.
Hoover took the high road and made the best of the situation. Hoover changed the name of Regions Park, where the Barons had played baseball, to the Hoover Met Complex. The complex is busy every day. It houses the SEC Baseball Tournament, Hoover High School Football, and many special events.
Meanwhile the combination of Railroad Park and Regions Field in midtown Birmingham has generated hundreds of millions of dollars of investment.
As Margie Beth Shaw, radio host for “Let’s Talk Birmingham,” recently commented, “I love our Birmingham! The growth downtown is so exciting and I LOVE a great night out on the town. Hoover is such a strong city. They have done an amazing job bouncing back from the Baron’s move. The SEC Tournament is always fun to go to and I have been to many trade shows and corporate events at both the stadium and the new Finley Center event space. They have a GREAT event team there so go book an event!”
Last year there was some discussion about Hoover giving incentives to UAB Medical West to move from Bessemer to Hoover. John Lyda, a member of the Hoover City Council, was opposed. He wrote in a piece titled, Hoover can be a bold leader or a greedy neighbor, “Will we boldly stand and be the long awaited catalyst for change that illustrates how regional collaboration can work, or will we be conspirators in theft, paying a multi-million dollar bounty to steal from our neighbors?” The project was abandoned shortly afterwards.
Earlier this year it was announced that 23 Jefferson county mayors signed a good neighbor’s pledge to agree not to steal businesses from one another. Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato was a leader in that effort. He recently wrote me, “I’m honored to actually be one of five mayors that got that initiative going and proud to sign it.”
Some Hoover residents may be critical of its city’s efforts to partner with Birmingham. But Hoover and our other suburbs depend on each other and the City of Birmingham to be successful.
Recently I had the opportunity to meet and talk with the new CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International. I asked him how he enjoyed living in Tuscaloosa. I was surprised when he told me that he and his family live in Hoover. Later I learned that many Mercedes top employees also live in Hoover.
As Hoover City Councilman John Lyda wrote in his piece mentioned above, “Now more than ever across the Birmingham metropolitan area, it is imperative that we adopt the mindset that we must win together as one or we will all individually lose.”
Hoover’s leadership is showing courage and vision.
We may live in Trussville, Mountain Brook or Homewood—but to the rest of the world, we’re the Birmingham-Hoover Metro.
David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group for free about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org