MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Mobile City Council votes to put $200,000 towards the overhead costs of Ladd Stadium while they and the Mobile County Public School System hit the halfway point of a 60-day due diligence period.
Despite both sides agreeing to an intergovernmental agreement and a sale agreement, the stadium will be owned by the city until the end of the two-month period.
“It’s really to pay for the operational costs of the stadium until we close with the Mobile County Public School System,” Mobile Chief of Staff, James Barber, said.
The due diligence period is a time for the school system to evaluate the stadium’s current condition and determine what renovations they need to make to the stadium.
The school district was given $9.2 million from the city to make their upgrades. Although a project to place new artificial turf has been completed, that is the only upgrade that will happen until after the 2023 high school football season.
“I think that the school board is a great steward of money, and they can actually help maintain Ladd and actually propel it,” Timothy Hollis, a Ladd Stadium employee, said.
The city gave the school board a 30-month time frame they are allowed to shut the stadium down for up to 18 months to make repairs. The school board estimated that they plan to spend an additional $5.2 million to make repairs; money that was allocated to build Murphy High School a new football stadium.
Hollis said that when the deal was first announced, he was scared he might lose his job.
“You definitely want to take care of the people that work there while you still maintain ownership. You don’t want to be a bad boss. You want to make sure that everyone goes home with a smile,” Hollis said.
Among the upgrades, the school system said they will reduce the stadium’s current capacity of 40,000 seats to 25,000 seats. Many people feared HBCU football games would not survive the deal if the stadium’s capacity didn’t stay above 30,000.
“After all the litigation deliberations, I feel like we all met some form of general resolve,” Hollis said. “I think now that we see what is actually going to take place, things look good from here on out.”
As part of the agreement, the school system’s upgrades must be able to accommodate temporary seating and future build-on.
Four weeks of high school football will be played before the school system takes full ownership of the stadium. At that time, the school board is obligated to pay for game functions like security.
Once the school board takes ownership of the stadium, it will have to take over the overhead costs.