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April 22, 2010   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
April 22, 2010

Montgomery's Garrett Coliseum was built in 1951, but has fallen in disrepair.
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A house bill that would provide much-needed funding to renovate Montgomery's aging Garrett Coliseum passed the Alabama Senate today.

House Bill 663 will provide $800,000 per year through the year 2041 to renovate and update the facility which was considered a showcase when it was built in 1951. The structure, however, has fallen into disrepair.

In a March interview with the Montgomery Advertiser, Coliseum manager Bill Johnson said that the building's 26-year-old roof is leaking with each rain, concessions stands are inadequate and restroom facilities need upgrading.

The coliseum has hosted everything from horse shows and rodeos to circuses and high school graduations throughout the years.

The Alabama Agricultural Center Board has until 2014 to assemble a plan for updating the facility. The bill stipulates that the appropriation cannot exceed $30 million, or continue past the year 2041.

"This is such an important development for Montgomery and all of Alabama," said Commissioner Ron Sparks of the Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries. "The coliseum has been an integral part of both cultural and agricultural activities and performances since opening in the early 1950's. We really needed this funding to come through. Besides the importance to the agricultural community, the historical value of the building is tremendous." Sparks applauded the work by Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) and Sen. Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) and all legislators who voted for the bill.

"Without Representative Knight and Senator Bedford's firm belief in the importance of this bill and strong leadership in the legislature, it would not have passed," said Sparks. "This can be a boost to the economy not only for the River Region, but for the whole state of Alabama."

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