Mystic society members share concerns over Civic Center future

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — One day after Mobile City Council members saw concepts for what the future of the Mobile Civic Center could look like, dozens of mystic society members packed council chambers, to make sure their voices were heard.

Several Mardi Gras organizations have expressed concerns over the future of Mardi Gras balls with plans underway to redevelop the Civic Center site. They want to make sure there is a facility available to host the balls.

While the civic center is not on the agenda, some people were signed up to present concerns to the council.

“I would hate to see that building destroyed when it could be refurbished and brought back into the prime that it needs to be,” said a woman concerned over the redevelopment plans.

“Any disruption of that will negatively impact the organizations’ ability to provide these parades to the community,” said another man during the city council meeting.

Efforts are currently underway to redevelop the Civic Center site. Council members just heard the two proposals for the project Monday. You can view the proposals here.

One concept, made by Stirling, would keep an arena and potentially add in other facilities, like apartment buildings, or a grocery store. It would cost roughly $66 million.

The second proposal, made by Cordish, would be a more open-air concept. Restaurants and shopping would surround an entertainment district.

“I’m planting a seed. We need a Civic Center downtown,” said council member Fred Richardson during the meeting.

Mystic society members say they were worried going into the meeting but were encouraged by council members comments.

“They understand the importance of keeping Mardi Gras downtown. That was one of our main goals, is to keep Mardi Gras downtown,” said the president of the Order of Polka Dots.

Repairing the current facility would cost roughly $50-million, but council members expressed concern over that price tag.

“I don’t think any of us are interested in putting 50 million into our present Civic center, I would rather see those resources used to build something brand new that would be comparable,” said Levon Manzie, Vice President of the Mobile City Council.

It’s still a relief for mystic society members.

“We feel good about the process,” said the president of the Order of Polka Dots.

Many mystic society members have already expressed concerns over the future of Mardi Gras. An online petition has been created to share their concerns with the city and council members. Part of the petition says:

“As you know, there are efforts underway by city officials to redevelop the Civic Center site without any plans to remodel or replace the existing Civic Center, and to possibly move the balls and receptions to an old warehouse at Brookley Field. This will be incredibly disruptive to the Mardi Gras traditions in our community and will negatively affect parade goers, tourists, families, revelers and a host of other citizens that also use the facility.”

Mayor Sandy Stimpson has said he plans to get with the Mardi Gras organizations as well as neighborhood organizations to show them the current proposals.

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