Some of Alabama's best high school football players are conducting drills under a blistering July sun. One day they may make fortunes in the NFL; but they're helping Montgomery make money right now. Dawn Hathcock with the Chamber's Convention and Visitors Bureau says, "All-Stars sports week brings in about two million dollars of economic impact for the city of Montgomery."
The welcome mat for the All-Stars is about to be pulled away. A two year renovation project at the civic center will mean thousands of athletes, coaches and their families will have to go somewhere else. "We have tried to locate a facility in Montgomery that would handle what we're doing, but we've not even gotten close. So yes, we anticipate being located somewhere else for the next two years at least," says Dr. Ken Blankenship, an All-Stars week organizer.
Losing out on big conventions may hit hotels and restaurants where it hurts: the cash register. The owners of Noble's Restaurant, just a short walk from the civic center, worry the civic center's parking lot will be lost during renovations. Co-owner Steve McRraw says, "there's not a lot of room for anybody to come down and enjoy themselves, without having to walk three blocks away."
While All-Stars week is about to disappear for two years. Tourism officials are working hard not to get shut out for other conventions. The annual Buckmasters Expo and Air Force Expo attract thousands of people and millions of dollars.
Bathcock says, "possibly it could mean shutting down construction for a short amount of time to put them in the building, get them out and then resume construction. It could be putting them in a different facility all together."
She says the city will work vehemently to lure the All-Stars back in 2007. A decision on where All-Stars week will be held for the next two years could come in September.