Mobile Civic Center May See its Last Mardi Gras Ball in 2020

The Mobile Civic Center was probably really nice at one time. Opened in 1964, the arena was built with the city's Mardi Gras traditions in mind. There are individual rooms throughout the concourses which are used during the balls to help people socialize in smaller groups, with food and drink at the ready. The Civic Center has served its Mardi Gras purpose well for the past 55 years.

But lately, Mardi Gras is one of the only things happening in the arena. Hockey moved out years ago (#BringBackOurMysticks), and it was a terrible place to watch a hockey game anyway. The Jags moved their games back on campus more than two decades ago. We also had a basketball team in what was the fledgling National Basketball Developmental League (NBDL). The Mobile Revelers featured potential NBA players and even won a championship, before folding after just two years. Today, the NBDL is called the G-League and is much better established. But when the New Orleans Pelicans announced that Mobile would be one of their preferred locations to put their new G-League team, civic leaders said they couldn't make the numbers work, not with required improvements to the Civic Center. So that team will instead call Birmingham home.

The aging Civic Center is no longer a solution and will likely be replaced. According to al.com, there are two competing bids to redevelop the property. We don't know the details at this time, but any solution will have to account for Mardi Gras. Mayor Sandy Stimpson found this out the hard way. when in 2015, he called for the building to be permanently closed. Mardi Gras organizations fought back, and so (it seemed) did the Civic Center itself. A major concert was secured, and we got to see Elton John one last time in Downtown Mobile.

This time, the city will figure out what to do with all those Mardi Gras balls. And at Tuesday's City Council meeting, the mayor said they've identified a temporary location. It's a building at the Brookley Complex known as "23 East," and he says it could be used starting in 2021. That would buy 3-4 years to get a new facility completed in Downtown Mobile. George Talbot, the mayor's spokesperson, tells al.com that they are seeking input from the Mardi Gras organizations that would be most impacted by a closure of the Civic Center. There will certainly be plenty of questions, but until a temporary home for the Civic Center's Mardi Gras balls can be finalized, it's really not possible to move on from the Civic Center.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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