Plans moving forward with Civic Center renovation; city prepares for possible disruptions for future Mardi Gras seasons

Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 4:15 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -Things are moving forward with upgrading the Mobile Civic Center now that the city council is considering an almost $3 million contract to design 25-30% of the renovation project. The city says it hopes to have the complete design finished in about a year before eventually starting construction. Once that happens some organizations won’t be able to have their Mardi Gras balls there.

“They don’t really have a viable place to go besides the convention center which would radically change how they do their ball,” said Wayne Dean.

While there’s no start date yet the city says construction could take between 18 to 24 months. Mayor Sandy Stimpson says they’re already looking into how to make it as least invasive as possible.

“We have looked at possibly creating other venues other than the Civic Center to host Mardi Gras. What we’ll endeavor to do is make sure we only touch one Mardi Gras season,” said Stimpson.

With the Army Corps of Engineers building expected to break ground this month parade goers could see impacts for this upcoming season. Dean, who is part of multiple organizations, says parking is a huge concern while most of the parking lot is fenced off.

“When you get thousands of people coming whether they’re coming for a ball or parade and you eliminate that much parking you’re going to be scattered all over town,” said Dean.

Mayor Stimpson says the city will work to cut back on disruptions as best it can. Both he and Dean say the finished product will be worth it.

“If we don’t do this project and you shut the Civic Center down then what do you do, said Stimpson. “There will come a time that it will have served its useful life and you won’t be able to have those functions.”

“I think it’s going to be a good facility,” said Dean. " I’m looking forward to it.”

The city council is expected to vote on the design contract at their next meeting on Tuesday.