Lawmakers work on solutions for Garrett Coliseum

Posted by Samuel King - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - State lawmakers are working on ways to fund renovations to Garrett Coliseum and keep the historic venue operating.  Funding is tight as the state faces a budget crisis.

"We're all committed to finding a way to keep the coliseum operating and get it the updates it so desperately needs so it can continue to be a vital part of the economy here in Montgomery," said Rep. Joe Hubbard, of Montgomery.

Bargain seekers flocked to the Coliseum this weekend for the Junior League of Montgomery's "Bloomingdeals" rummage sale.

Organizers said putting the sale together can be a challenge.  They have to take in consideration everything from the electricity to ceiling leaks to weather.

"Last year it was a frozen tundra in here, we don't have heat to keep the ladies warm during the week, so we're having to layer up," said Joanna Kirkland, organizer of the event.  "So it makes it really difficult."

Despite the coliseum's issues, Kirkland said there are few other places in town that could accommodate these type of events.

"This is an ideal location, it gives us the floor space we need, and the parking space we need and access for the public," Kirkland said.

A state senate committee voted to pull funding for renovations.  And there may not be funding to operate the coliseum in next year's budget.

Hubbard said public-private partnerships should be am option.

"I think there's no doubt that government cannot support by itself entities like the coliseum, and thereby the groups and like the Kiwanis Club, the Junior League that benefit from the Coliseum need to chip in as well and that's something we're definitely exploring."

Hubbard said he is working on legislation that would outline the creation of a coliseum authority that would bring together lawmakers and private agencies to find solutions to the issues facing the coliseum.

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