Nick and Terry Saban joined Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and dozens of other dignitaries at the Tuscaloosa Rivermarket Wednesday morning to celebrate the master plan for the Saban Discovery Center, which is tentatively set to open to the public in Fall 2025.

The event was well attended by leaders from governments, businesses and nonprofits across West Alabama, all there to support the planned center, which will be a hub of learning for children with a sharp focus on science, math, the arts and technology.

"The Saban Center is an opportunity in Tuscaloosa or us to have our children ready for a technology-rich century. That means science, engineering, arts and math," Maddox said. "This is going to give our children, our next generation, the opportunity for experiential learning so they're ready for this century."

"There are many trophies and championships in the game of football, but the most life-changing achievement is getting an education," said Nick Saban, the head football coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. "That's the real game-changer."


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The Saban Center was announced in 2019, and planning for its construction and operation have continued since then, despite some setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Today, we've come together to celebrate our progress on this incredible project," Maddox said.

In a video screened at the event, the Sabans and Maddox shared new renderings of the Center and announced that when it opens in 2025, Tuscaloosa's beloved Children's Hands-On Museum will be rebranded with a new name and logo and will be known going forward as Ignite.

The Center will also house a state-of-the-art facility for the Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre, a new sports science center for children and much more.

"The Saban Center will be a new and more comprehensive version of our Tuscaloosa Children's Hands-On Museum," his wife Terry Saban said. "Children will be able to learn using all of their senses through interactive experiences."

Check out the video outlining the new developments below.

The Sabans and a team of community leaders are still in the process of securing private funding for the Center to complement funds from Maddox's Elevate Tuscaloosa plan, but the finished product will sit alongside River District Park, the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater and the still-growing Tuscaloosa Riverwalk to completely transform the city where it sits on the banks of the Black Warrior River.

"This learning hub will draw people from across the nation to enjoy and inspire learning and to socialize in a spirit of togetherness," Terry Saban said.

"I hope that our legacy in the 15 years that we've been here will show that in life as well as in football, doing things the right way, being responsible and disciplined, showing respect for one another and getting an education will give you more opportunities in life," Nick Saban said.

The Sabans also renewed their commitment to the city and community, with Mrs. Terry borrowing a now-famous line her husband spoke after winning his first national championship at the University at the end of the 2009 football season.

"To quote a very smart coach who I happen to know, 'it's not the end, it's just the beginning,'" Mrs. Terry said.

If Coach Saban's success at UA since 2010 is any indication of what the future has in store for the Saban Center, it will be exciting to watch it develop in the years to come.

For more updates on the Saban Center and other projects in and around the city, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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