The city of Tuscaloosa has set a new timeline for the construction of the highly anticipated Saban Center, planned to be a regional STEM learning hub for all of West Alabama.

As the Thread has previously reported, the Saban Center will be built at the site of the former Tuscaloosa News building on what used to be 28th Avenue - it was recently renamed in honor of the Nick's Kids Foundation.

In a presentation of his Capital Projects budget proposal, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said after a long period of securing donors and designing the space, then redesigning it after landing the State of Alabama as a funding partner.

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"The good news / bad news of getting $25 from the state of Alabama to be a regional STEM hub is it did delay us about six months because we had to redesign to meet the needs not just of Tuscaloosa, but all of west Alabama," Maddox said Monday.

Even so, the dream of the Saban Center grows ever closer to becoming reality.

Maddox said design on the space will be complete in January 2025, city leaders will host a groundbreaking in April 2025, and the grand opening is planned for June 2027.

"We are very confident now about this timeline and very excited about where we are," Maddox said.

Maddox's capital projects budget proposal did not recommend any new spending on the Saban Center.

The more than $80 million project to build it will be funded by about $40 million from Maddox's Elevate Tuscaloosa tax plan in addition to the $25 million from the state and $15 million secured by private donors.

Maddox said thanks to the work of fundraisers including Mrs. Terry Saban herself, the city has earned written commitments for more than $15 million from private donors for the Center to date.

Maddox said the Center will serve more than 160,000 school-age children who live within an hour of Tuscaloosa and will include space for the Tuscaloosa Children’s Theatre and Ignite, which was formerly known as Children’s Hands-On Museum.

For more about the Center and the city's work to make it a reality, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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