Pate Asks for Public Support for McFarland Mall Sportsplex Plan
Tuscaloosa businessman and real estate magnate Stan Pate is asking for public support of a plan he announced Tuesday morning to transform the dilapidated McFarland Mall property off Skyland Boulevard into a state-of-the-art sports complex.
Pate called into the Steve Shannon Morning Show on 95.3 the Bear Tuesday morning, accompanied by Tuscaloosa city councilwoman Sonya McKinstry and contractor Robert Amason to announce that after years of disagreements with municipal officials about selling the property, he wants to see a sportsplex built there regardless of who owns the land.
"[McKinstry] believes that the city ought to buy the property and lead the project, but you know what? The project is going to happen," Pate told Shannon Tuesday.
Pate said that in the decades he has spent buying and developing property in and around Tuscaloosa, he's heard the same message from residents here.
"The one single thing I have heard over and over and over again is 'Build something for the children, build something for the teenagers, build something for the families,'" Pate said.
He said he felt like developing the Cobb Hollywood 16 theater, which recently rebranded as CMX Cinemas Hollywood 16, was the closest he ever came to realizing that goal, but now as he tries to reduce the size of his footprint in the Tuscaloosa area, it's time to turn the McFarland Mall property into something in which the community can take pride.
"I’m here to announce today that the McFarland Mall property will be a regional entertainment district and the centerpiece of it will be a sportsplex," Pate told Steve Shannon. "If Birmingham can have it, we can have it."
Pate's vision for the property is a big one -- he said the sports complex will be anchored by a skatepark, a 1,500-car parking deck, a place for food trucks, small specialty retail stores and restaurants, local businesses and more.
But Pate can't realize the dream alone and asked the people of Tuscaloosa, West Alabama and beyond to voice their support for such a project.
"I need the community to believe in it and speak out loud, to voice their support, call their councilmen, call their representatives, call their state senators, call your United States Senators to get this project done," Pate said. "For it to reach its full potential, there’s going to be a lot of partners required."
He said some of that groundwork is already laid, that US Senator Richard Shelby and Senator-elect Tommy Tuberville have voiced support for this development and that Congresswoman Terri Sewell would also likely get on board.
The trick, Pate said, will be solidifying a partnership with City Hall, where animosity with the entrepreneur has existed for years.
"The city is going to have to recognize the value in something like this," Pate said. "They’re going to have to furnish direct investment. They’re going to have to seek grants."