Proposed ordinance would see Cullman Civic Center sold; Desperation Church set to buy

Cullman Civic Center (Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism)

CULLMAN, Ala. – At Monday evening’s Cullman City Council meeting, a last minute addition to the agenda became the big story as the council gave a first reading to an ordinance that would pave the way for the sale of the Cullman Civic Center to Desperation Church, a move that could help the landlocked congregation expand and provide funding for construction of the city’s new sports complex.

Cullman Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism Executive Director Nathan Anderson told The Tribune, “Several years ago, when we started planning this sports and events complex, one of the things that we identified early on that was necessary was to consolidate the operations with the civic center and the new complex. It doesn’t make sense to run two large event centers like that simultaneously.

“When we purchased the Marvin’s property, we also at that same time had a new renter with Desperation Church, and they just fell in love with the civic center. And, as we’ve gotten closer to the point where we can get to the nuts and bolts of the design of this new complex, we realized that there’s a lot of interest from Desperation Church to acquire this property. So we started discussion, and they had a lot of interest in purchasing it.”

Anderson continued, “We had an appraisal on the property, and they gave us a full appraised value offer, and this will free us up to allocate staff necessary to run the new complex.  It’ll also free up overhead, as a 30,000-square-foot building is expensive to run. We’ll be able to allocate those expenses to go towards the expenses of the new complex; it’s a pretty significant down payment on a new complex, as well.”

Anderson commended the plans he has heard from the staff of the church, saying, “The intentions of Desperation Church are to improve the site. Their plans consist of a multi-million-dollar renovation to the facility, so they will be making a lot of improvements to the building, outside and inside, which will be great for the area neighbors of that property, and great for the community.”

During a Cullman City Council meeting in March, Anderson announced CP&R’s plan to construct the new multi-sport indoor complex at the site of the old Marvin’s store on Main Avenue Southwest across from Heritage Park and adjacent to the Cullman Wellness & Aquatic Center.  The facility will feature six full-size basketball courts and will also support numerous other sporting and non-sports events.

Anderson described the planned development as “a four-year planning and research project for us.  Shortly after I was hired on, we did a large community survey, and one of the top needs within our community was more indoor space, or bringing on additional sports or grow sports that require indoor space.  So we knew a long time ago that we had a large local need for more indoor sports space, but, as we’ve done with Heritage Park and Field of Miracles, we wanted to make sure that we were smart with the use of facilities, and while we’re not doing local activity on it, we’re finding a way to use that to generate money and bring exposure to our community.”

Plans for the proposed facility include basketball, volleyball and other court sports.  Anderson verbally brainstormed about possible martial arts, dance, cheer, gymnastics and fencing events, among others.  In addition, the complex could host community and commercial events like trade shows, expos, conferences and concerts. Being able to put on events inside also means that weather will not be a factor in planning or carrying out events.

Said Anderson, “Instead of trying to fill what’s been about 42 to 44 weekends–if the weather cooperates–of sports tourism activities, we now can fill a calendar year.  It doesn’t matter what the weather does; the show goes on.”

Monday night’s first reading received no action from the council. The matter will be up for a vote at the next meeting.

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W.C. Mann