Black Meetings and Tourism

September / October 2022

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Page 40 of 52

AREA GUIDES A L A B A M A HISTORY AND CULTURE A MAJOR DRAW FOR PLANNERS MEETING IN ALABAMA B Y R U F U S M C K I N N E Y From bass fishing on the Tennessee River to snorkeling off the Gulf Coast, Alabama's outdoor attractions offer plen- ty of options for pre- and post-convention activities, corporate retreats, incentive travel and family reunion adventures. For those whose interests expand beyond the outdoors into outer space, the city of Huntsville is home to one of Alabama's top visitor attractions: the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Another notable local attraction is the Imhotep Art Gallery, which showcases the works of Black artists. The Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center is a popular attraction in the city best known for its legendary historically Black university. Another major point of interest is the National Tuskegee Airmen Museum. • • BIRMINGHAM • • With world-class attractions, lodging and dining fueling its reputation and 15,000 guest rooms in the greater Birmingham area, the city is a popular, affordable meeting host. Meeting plan- ners enjoy the impressive inventory of convention services offered and have come to expect exceptional service from the CVB Services Staff. Birmingham's unique cultural history gives planners an interesting lineup of venues and sites to hold events ranging from private parties and weddings to larg- er conferences and trade shows. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) is Alabama's largest convention address, with meeting facili- ties all on one campus. The BJCC com- plex campus has 350,000 sq. ft. of con- vention and exhibition space. The com- plex includes an 18,000-seat arena and 4,000 seats in two theaters. Two hotels, The Sheraton Birmingham Hotel and Westin Birmingham, are also part of the complex. Birmingham is well known for its prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. A visit to the many educational institutions and muse- ums throughout city gives visitors an in- depth look at that important era. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) is a "living institution" which views the lessons of the past as a positive way to chart new directions for the future. BCRI's permanent exhibitions are a self- directed journey through the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement and human rights struggles. Birmingham does not sit still long, con- stantly moving forward to build toward a future that enhances quality of life for both residents and visitors. New devel- opments include \the demolition and replacement of the aging interstate bridges through downtown, giving a vibrant new entryway into the city. It is almost impossible to drive through down- town at night without noticing the aesthet- ic lighting added to the new bridge work. LED ribbon lighting along the edges of the bridge adds dramatic effect to the struc- ture and has been an instant hit with driv- ers on that route. Planned in tandem with the bridge reconstruction, a massive 31-acre park beneath I-59-20 is well underway. The lin- ear park will serve as a gathering space for visitors and for the community, with a quarter-mile walking trail and fields for sports activities. Just a block down the street is the newly built Protective Stadium, a $180 million open-air athletic field. With 45,000 seats, the stadium will serve as the home field for the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers football team. It also will host the grand opening and closing ceremonies for The World Games 2022. The Fennec, a live music venue with a restaurant, bar and The Social event space, for receptions, business meet- ings, and larger concerts, is slated for Birmingham's burgeoning Parkside District.. Renovation of the 18,000- seat Legacy Arena on the Birmingham- Jefferson Convention Center (BJCC) campus is also nearing completion. • • • STATS • • • HOTEL ROOMS Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport 220 DoubleTree by Hilton Birmingham 204 Sheraton Birmingham Hotel 757 Westin Birmingham 294 Birmingham Marriott 302 Hyatt Regency Birmingham 329 EXHIBITION FACILITIES The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Total Exhibit Space 220,000 sq. ft. Meeting Rooms 51 Largest Ballroom 25,500 sq. ft. WHO YOU GONNA CALL? (800) 458-8085 Birmingham Metro Black Chamber of Commerce Martin Luther King Statue photo credit: Jeffrey Greenberg B M & T ••• September/October 2022 ••• 40

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