Month: December 2019

Hoover sets sights on new projects in 2020

Gene Hallman looking at the camera


HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) — Looking ahead to 2020, Hoover looks to capitalize on big plans.

Mayor Frank Brocato said he has a lot of projects, both big and small, he is excited to work on next year, but perhaps the biggest takeaway from a conversation with CBS 42’s Alissa Rothermich was that plans are in the works for the former Sears at the Riverchase Galleria and just a year from now, things could look very different. The Galleria is one of the state’s most popular shopping destinations, but in October, Sears closed.

Brocato said the closure of the anchor store has opened the door for re-development. City officials are now doing a study and talking about turning the site into a performing arts center.

“That’s kind of a missing link that we don’t have in the city and that’s a wonderful opportunity to have somewhere for our great performances,” Brocato said.

There is a lot of energy surrounding that idea and a desire to make it quickly happen.

“I think you’re looking at something in the next 12-15 months,” he said. “It’s coming. We have an idea. We have the Galleria ownership excited about it.”

The city will also begin talks with the SEC in 2020, working to keep the annual baseball tournament in Hoover after the current contract expires in 2021. The tournament brings in anywhere from $15 million to $18 million per year with last year setting records for attendance.

“The last bid process was very competitive,” said Gene Hallman. “Nashville and Memphis, Jacksonville and New Orleans all submitted very aggressive bids so we’re not taking anything for granted.”

One way local leaders are working to solidify Hoover’s stamp on the tournament is to expand the youth baseball tournament that runs in conjunction with the SEC baseball championship. This year, 40-50 teams from the SEC footprint are expected to compete. The primary intent of this is to drive tourism and awareness for the SEC baseball tournament.

Traffic throughout the city is a hot-button issue for commuters. While the mayor admits easing the gridlock on Hwy. 280 is “a tough nut to crack,” Hoover does have a plan for the Highway 150 and I-459 corridor with a new interchange is now slated for South Shades Crest Road.

“We believe that will relieve traffic on South Shades Crest Road and Hwy. 150 as well as the Ross Bridge community that will help the entire western part of Hoover,” Brocato said.

The city has already purchased land and is now looking to purchase over 20 additional acres to make the interchange a reality


World Games names new CEO ahead of 2021 games

Gene Hallman sitting in front of a laptop

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The World Games are about a year and a half away. On Tuesday, the Board of Directors announced the appointment of their new CEO, Nick Sellers.

The new CEO is already hitting the ground running. Sellers sat down with Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin to discuss what the next 19 months of planning will look like.

Sellers said he has already made a commitment to the mayor on his first day on the job.

“It was very important to the mayor that this is an event that will create shared prosperity for the community,” he said. “And I committed to him that that will be my goal.”

The World Games is expected to generate an estimated $256 million in economic impact for the Magic City. Gene Hallman, with Bruno Event Planning, said they’re on track to meeting their fundraising goal.

“We’re well north of halfway there in terms of raising the money to cover the expenses,” Hallman said.

The World Games have not been in the US since the inaugural competition in 1981.

“I couldn’t be more excited about it. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience for Birmingham and the state of Alabama really,” Sellers said.

Homeland Security will be overseeing security for the World Games, working alongside city, county and state law enforcement. Hallman said more details will be released early next year.

“We fully expect to have a comprehensive security plan in place by early next year,” he said.

While the games are a decades-long tradition, there are competitions to look forward to that we may not be used to watching, like fistball, finswimming, and tug-of-war.

“There are some weird ones! I’m learning about korfball. I’ve never heard about korfball until today,” Sellers said.

Hallman said we can expect to learn more about logistics, like parking and transportation in early 2020.

Friend remembers legendary Auburn quarterback Pat Sullivan

a close up of Gene Hallman

Former Auburn quarterback and Samford football coach Pat Sullivan is being remembered for his contributions both on and off the field. Learn more in the video above.

Sullivan died in his sleep over the weekend. He was 69.

A celebration of life will be held at Church of the Highlands (Grants Mill Campus) on December 6 at 1 p.m. A visitation will precede the celebration at noon.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to The Sullivan Survivorship Program at the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB, Samford University Athletics, or the charity of your choosing.