The multi-purpose sports complex planned by the city of Cullman will open doors to larger national exposure, while meeting a wide range of local demands, in a sports tourism market that is valued at $70 billion.

Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism Director Nathan Anderson made a presentation, accompanied by preliminary architectural renderings, showing the wide range of uses for the facility Monday night at the Cullman City Council meeting.

At a cost of $15 million to $20 million, partly to be offset by the sale of the Robert E. McGukin Civic Center to Desperation Church, Anderson said the complex will include a capacity for 7,500 people, perhaps more, depending on the events.

“This will address a lot of local needs, much like the civic center does now, but on a larger scale,” Anderson said. “And when the weekends are here, the regional and national tournaments will be here. On a national scale, you will be among the top 20 in the country with the space and abilities this complex will provide.”

City Council member Clint Hollingsworth said Cullman is already doing well on a regional and national scale in sports tourism, but added the plans in the works for the complex will provide the city with an even greater opportunity to capture more of the market.

“From what I have learned this is a $70 billion industry and we will be able to gain a larger piece of the pie,” Hollingsworth said. “That will be good for our hotels and businesses and showing our community to more people.”

Anderson also noted the complex will provide opportunities for large and small events, as well as multiple events. He also said architectural reviews will be done to ensure the design and capacity meets multiple needs.

The civic center, which was named after former mayor Robert E. McGukin, will transfer to Desperation Church this year. McGukin’s daughter, Nancy Wright, spoke at the council meeting and praised the mayor and council for being visionary. She also expressed appreciation on behalf of her family that her father’s efforts and name will be recognized in the transition.

In other business, the council:

  • approved a special event request from Keith Peinhardt of Buettner Brothers Lumber Company to hold a Customer/Contractor Appreciation Day on September 20, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • approved a special event request from Sue Turner of Life Chain Cullman to hold the 16th Annual Cullman Life Chain on October 12, 2019 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. on the sidewalks along Highway 31 around the Cullman County Courthouse.
  • approved a special event request from Stephanie Wood of A21 to hold an event to raise awareness of human trafficking on October 19, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on the sidewalks around the Cullman County Courthouse.
  • approved  a special event request from Edith Smith to hold a car show to benefit Christmas Love of Cullman on November 9, 2019 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Depot Park.
  • approved a request from Chipotle Mexican Grill located at 1821 Cherokee Avenue SW for a Restaurant Alcohol License which received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Alcohol Review Committee.
  • approved a request from Newk’s Eatery located at 410 Second Avenue NW for a Restaurant Alcohol License which received a favorable recommendation from the City of Cullman Alcohol Review Committee.
  • approved  ordinance No. 2019-27 to vacate and surplus the Cullman Civic Center.
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David Palmer has decades of experience in the newspaper industry. He currently serves as editor of The Cullman Times.

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