Tag Archives: vote

Digging into the UAB athletics announcement: Sometimes it’s all about timing

uab proposed stadiumDuring the question and answer portion of the December 2 press conference held by UAB president Ray Watts to announce the discontinuation of the university’s bowling, football, and rifle teams, he offered up to those in attendance that he’d stopped an earlier attempt to end the football program for the purpose of conducting what’s now known as the Carr Report.

Here’s a passage from Bryan Davis’s report published in the Birmingham Business Journal quoting Watts:

“There were some who told us to eliminate football, some who suggested we do that when Garrick McGee quit,” Watts said. “We were six weeks into this plan, and we said ‘we don’t make decisions like that. We’re not going to make a unilateral decision that perhaps might be convenient.'”

Davis’s reporting also points out how Watts stated the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees had no role in determining the fate of the programs.

The story as it’s been told

Those who have come out against the university’s decision are quick to point to the trustees choosing to not take up the issue of an on-campus stadium in late 2011. The board made that decision two months after a report suggested the increased reliance of the member institution’s budgets on tuition and student fees.

At the time, Birmingham News columnist Kevin Scarbinsky asked Paul Bryant, Jr. — as part of a pretty extensive exchange originally published on November 3, 2011 — if the on-campus stadium was dead. His response?

“As presented, yes.”

It’s worth pointing out that UAB had not yet acquired most of the land necessary to carry out the development of the proposed on-campus stadium. It was slated to sit on property located close to Interstate 65 along its eastern edge, with parking located on the opposite side of the road from it and pedestrian access to the site (the horseshoe clearly stands out in the image on this page from UAB Magazine’s website).

A look at an article filed in 2013 by then-Birmingham News reporter Evan Belanger suggests there may have been efforts underway to make it time — and ones that could have led to Watts’s statement.

Approval at last?

Belanger’s February 7, 2013 report, “UA System trustees raise concern over UAB plan to purchase downtown property,” (updated the following evening after the Board of Trustees meeting had taken place) was specifically focused on resolutions for two negotiated land purchases — 11.7 acres at 400 10th St. South and 2.4 acres at 430 12th St. South. It would do well to click on the links associated with the addresses above and then take a look at the location of the bright green dots on the image below, taken from the UAB Master Plan update proposed in 2011 (and first presented to the board in February of that year).

Slide 1

While Belanger did include quotes from concerned trustees, it’s worth noting that neither Joseph Espy III or Finis St. John IV were sitting members of the committee taking up the issue. As is the case with Birmingham City Council committees, all such meetings involving the UA Board of Trustees are open to all members with each having the opportunity to be recognized by the committee chair but not necessarily being able to vote. The photo accompanying the story shows that was most likely the case that day. Both men were, however, members of the athletics, legal, nominating committees at that time according to a site capture of the board’s official website from January 26, 2013, explaining the concerns raised by each in the article.

It’s also worth noting the appraisal year mentioned in this portion of the piece:

“Vice President for Financial Affairs and Administration Richard Margison said a 2011 appraisal valued the land at about $3 million and a more recent appraisal valued it at $6.3 million — roughly $4 million excluding depreciated assets, which would be demolished.”

Both items passed the physical properties committee unanimously. The total expenditures approved as a result were $21.5 million — $20.7 total for the two purchases and $800,000 to help the Hardy Corporation relocate and replace equipment as a result of having to move. The cost referenced by Dr, Watts in his announcement on December 2 to invest in infrastructure for the football team was $22 million — a number The Carr Report points out does not include the cost of a new football stadium. The original price range for the entire on-campus stadium project as presented was between $66-75 million.

The vote took place the day before the general business meeting of the board of trustees — the day before Ray Watts was named the new president of UAB. The properties were also included on the board agenda (PDF; Page 15 under Real Estate Items) and approved. In other words — the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees allowed the purchase of two pieces of property specifically called out in UAB’s proposed Master Plan update in 2011 for use as a parking lot and an on-campus stadium the same day they hired Ray Watts as UAB’s new president.


If one drives by the properties in question (specifically the 12th St. South property), he/she notices most of the surrounding land is now controlled by the university; most of it converted to surface parking lots. An example of what the structures still standing are being used for is the building currently being used by the campus’s Barnes & Noble bookstore. It is scheduled to move into the soon-to-be-completed student center when it is finished next fall, making it available for future development plans.

The relocation of Alagasco as the result of the purchase of the 10th Street property eventually led to them purchasing a significant portion of the former TCI Iron Works property along 14th Street and a lengthy battle over the future of the historic freight depot on the site. The resolution of that episode led to the relocation of the depot to Rickwood Field for use as an enclosed batting cage facility.

Eyes shift to next week’s faculty senate meeting at UAB

WB UAB GatewayConstruction continued Friday morning on a new gateway sign for the University of Alabama at Birmingham to welcome those travelling westbound along University Boulevard at Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard — a sign of things moving forward. This was as some attempted to determine next steps following Tuesday’s announcement by university president Ray Watts that discontinued the football, bowling, and rifle teams. One becoming more apparent involves the upcoming regularly scheduled meeting of the UAB Faculty Senate on December 9. It will be held on campus at the Finley Conference Center in the Kaul Genetics Building the 1st floor auditorium in Cudworth Bldg, (1919 University Blvd.), from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m.

A review of their landing page on the university’s website states Tuesday’s agenda includes the item “UAB Athletics and Athletic Team Support.” This is believed to be representative of a proposed resolution asking that the three affected teams be reinstated immediately. There have also been calls online for the senate to conduct a vote of no confidence, most notably in the form of a letter signed by members of the UAB School of Nursing and obtained by several news outlets on Friday afternoon, including AL.com. During this evening’s rally on the university’s campus green, it was announced students planned to be in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting to also request the no confidence vote. Other planned demonstrations over the weekend include a mass march scheduled for 11 a.m. (there is no word if it would be canceled if it is raining as is currently predicted) and a “white-out” for Sunday afternoon’s men’s basketball game against Illinois State at Bartow Arena.

Today’s developments followed Thursday night’s “black-out” of the men’s basketball team’s 58-48 victory at home against Morehead State. The football team took to the court during halftime to a standing ovation; the students rushed it after the game. It also followed a statement of support for both UAB and its president Ray Watts from the Birmingham Business Alliance’s executive committee and more pieces published nationally about the situation — including this one from FiveThirtyEight.

Last day to “vote Birmingham” for U.S. Chamber community award

021006_CommunityExcellence_Wufoo_648x108px_Final3-2Six Birmingham area businesses were among the 100 recently honored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as recipients of the organization’s annual Blue Ribbon Awards. There were nine recognized statewide by the organization.

Birminghamians now get a chance to help one of these businesses receive the organization’s Community Excellence Award, but only until 10:59 a.m., CT tonight!

The website for the organization’s America’s Small Business Summit (where all the businesses will be awarded on June 13) states the award “is designed to highlight a business that has found success in the eyes of its community.” The voting takes place online, and you’re allowed one vote per email address. Here’s the list of local winners:

  • Bhate Geosciences, Corp.
  • McSweeney Holdings
  • Proventix Systems, Inc.
  • Relax, It’s Handled
  • Silvertron Cafe
  • Urban Cookhouse

The local winners will also learn on March 19 if one of them are among the seven regional finalists. One of them will receive the Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award (and $10,000) while at the Summit.

Vote for Bettola’s James Lewis – NOW!

James Lewis of Bettola. Courtesy of the restaurant's website.James Lewis of Bettola, a popular restaurant located at Pepper Place, is currently in first place, but the voting’s getting tight so he needs your help to keep him there.

He’s leading an impressive field of ten Gulf Coast chefs in Food & Wine’s The People’s Best New Chef online poll for that region.

Voting ends this evening (we’re assuming at midnight local time) so you probably want to head over there right now and make sure yours is counted. The official rules state that they’re only counting one vote per computer so you may need to tell a few of your friends about this. so James can make it to the next round – that’s when he’ll be going up against the winners from the other nine regional winners.

The overall winner of the poll will be featured in the July issue of Food & Wine.

Photo: Bettola’s James Lewis. Courtesy of the restaurant’s website.

Children, puppies or hipsters? You decide.

Luckie Choose Your Charity screenshotThe folks over at Birmingham, AL-based Luckie and Co. have $6,000 to give away to charity this holiday season – and they want your help to figure out how to divvy it up.

If you visit a special section of their website (click here to get there) before December 31, you can decide how the money is split up.

Your choices are puppies, children and creatives.

No, they’re not going to tell you exactly who’s getting the money until you place your vote (and we don’t know what they are either) but it’s definitely an interesting way to engage the community for the holidays.

Image: Screenshot from holiday.luckie.com

Time to choose who reigns supreme

Birmingham's Best 2010 logo. Courtesy of The Birmingham NewsWe’ve been looking for a reason to use that headline for some time (it just doesn’t seem to be the same without The Chairman though). Anyway…

Today’s the last day for folks to nominate their favorites for The Birmingham News‘ Birmingham’s Best Readers Poll. If you’re planning to vote you’ve got to make nominations for at least 10 of the 80+ categories listed.

Don’t worry if you don’t see this until Thursday morning – come Friday they’ll share the five finalists in each of the categories and you’ll get another chance to vote again.

Incidentally today’s also the last day to vote for the finalists in this year’s Mashable Awards. There’s also still time to nominate people for the Birmingham Business Journal‘s Top 40 under 40 Awards too (until January 6 to be exact).

Think of it as a warm up for this fall’s municipal elections…

Late arrivals


Arrest announced: Prosecutors announced early this morning that they were filing capital murder charges against 27 year old Joacquas Haywood of Irondale related to the disappearance of Nadia Kersh eighteen months ago. Kersh’s mother shared her thoughts on the development via the Internet this afternoon.

Cost cutting: The Birmingham News reports that the Birmingham Board of Education narrowly approved a plan submitted by new school superintendent Craig Witherspoon that eliminates 40 admin positions. The superintendent sounded confident as he spoke with Fox 6 after the special meeting concluded.

Star drops by: Today City Councilors got a surprise visit from actor Wesley Snipes during their weekly meeting. He informed the councilors and those watching that his next film would be made in Alabama. According to The New York Timeshe’s got a few that are in the works

Photo: Mirrors. Kevin Worley/Flickr