BAY MINETTE – The Baldwin County Coliseum will become a Robertsdale municipal facility under an agreement approved this week between the city and county.
The County Commission voted Tuesday, Oct. 5, to sell the Coliseum on Fairgrounds Road to the city of Robertsdale for $2.2 million. Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy said the City Council voted Monday to buy the property.
Murphy said city officials plan to increase the use of the property.
“We want to do something that will highlight the facility more for public use and we’ll get more people involved in using the facility,” Murphy said. “I think that would be very positive not just for Robertsdale, but for all of Baldwin County.”
Under the agreement, the county can still use the facility several times a year when needed, County Administrator Wayne Dyess said.
Commissioner Billie Jo Underwood, whose district includes central Baldwin, said making the Coliseum a city facility will make it more available to the public.
“I just felt like a municipality could do more with it than a county could and with it being strategically located there in Robertsdale, I’m just excited about what the future holds,” Underwood said.
The Coliseum has been the site of the Baldwin County Fair for more than 10 years. Murphy said the city will continue to work with the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association to hold the annual celebration.
“The city is very focused on maintaining the fair,” Murphy said. “If anything, this will just enhance it. That was one of the things that we worked in joint partnership on was to make sure going forward that we’re going to continue and it’s going to be active. The Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association has always done an excellent job with it and I’m sure they’re going to do a fantastic job in the future.”
Under the terms of the sale agreement, the city will allow the site to be used for a fair at least once a year. The county will pay Robertsdale $110,000 each time a fair is held on the site.
The Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association leases the Coliseum site from the county. The current lease expires in September 2022. Murphy said city officials do not have any current plans to change the lease.
“We had some communications with them about this transfer and we wanted them to know we will continue to be partners with them,” Murphy said of the association.
The Coliseum opened in 2009, according to reports. It was built at a cost of about $10 million. A $7.5-million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid most of the construction cost. The facility was designed as a storm shelter that can house up to 1,900 evacuees.
Under the terms of the sale, the county will still use the facility as a hurricane shelter when needed, Dyess said.
Murphy said city officials also hope to use the Coliseum as a center for new development in that area of Robertsdale.
“I think it’s going to be very positive. I really and truly believe that we’re going to have amenities that are going to be built out there,” Murphy said. “I think we’ve got some opportunities for some commercial growth. There’s another tract of property that’s west of there. We’re going to be talking to possible people that are going to purchase it, to an engineering firm and to advise them that possibly we could work out some partnerships in the whole area.”
Murphy said one improvement city officials plan to make at the Coliseum site is improved parking.