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OTR: Republican vs. Republican; NCAA events in Huntsville; MLB in Music City; and more …

Off The Record: The latest rumors and rumblings in North Alabama


Delegation divided?

Two sitting congressmen, Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) and Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), are running against each other in the upcoming Republican primary after Alabama’s congressional map was redrawn by federal courts for the 2024 election. Endorsements are being touted in the race for Alabama’s First Congressional District, most recently Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for Moore, whose Second Congressional District was redrawn, while Carl, who represents the First District, boasts a majority of state legislators’ official support. However, Alabama’s current congressional delegation, perhaps wisely and heeding former President Reagan’s “11th Commandment”, has so far resisted endorsing in the race. We hear that could change. Reps. Dale Strong (R-Monrovia) and Mike Rogers (R-Saks), along with Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery), have reportedly been formatively fundraising for Carl. Meanwhile, there are rumors the incredibly popular Britt could come out with an official endorsement for Carl in the coming days.

Huntsville competing for NCAA events

Though Sens. Tommy Tuberville and Katie Britt released a joint statement trying to steer NCAA events to Birmingham, those events the two politicians cited are not ones Huntsville would compete to host. Currently, Huntsville has submitted 35 proposals for NCAA events in soccer, cross country, lacrosse, bowling and golf for 2025-28. Among the proposals is hosting the 2027 and 2028 men’s women’s NCAA golf regionals. The city is set to host a women’s golf regional in 2026. Tuberville and Britt championed Birmingham for larger NCAA events – first and second-round men’s and women’s basketball regionals and the Women’s Gymnastics Championship. From 1982-08, Birmingham hosted men’s regionals 10 times and women’s once. After a nearly 15-year hiatus, Birmingham hosted the first- and second-round games of March Madness in 2023 with every game being sold out. Of course, both Auburn and Alabama played in the tournament. Birmingham has completed a $125 million renovation of the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center, where Legacy Arena has seating of around 17,600 for basketball. Huntsville’s Propst Arena at the Von Braun Center seats 6,556 for hoops.

Not so fast, Nashville

Rumors have Nashville and Salt Lake City as favorites for an envisioned Major League Baseball expansion, which would obviously offer a competitor to Atlanta in an area that is clearly within Braves Country, but don’t expect it to happen anytime soon despite urging from the group Music City Baseball. Insider Jeff Passan of ESPN has said he doesn’t see MLB expansion until the 2030s. One source told 256 Today they didn’t see MLB adding more teams at least until Commissioner Rob Manfried’s contract is up in five years. There are other obstacles – the Oakland A’s future is not settled, the Tampa Bay Rays club has promised a new stadium that has yet to materialize and Orlando appears to be a major expansion player. Pat Williams, the co-founder of the NBA’s Orlando Magic who announced an effort to bring an MLB team to Orlando in a 2019 press conference, is now rumored to be eyeing Tampa Bay’s franchise for relocation if the Rays can’t settle their stadium issues.

Nashville in the “Stars”?

If Major League Baseball eventually lands in Tennessee, Mortenson, one of the nation’s largest real estate development and construction companies, is conducting a site and market analysis for ballpark locations in  Davidson (Nashville), Williamson (Franklin, Spring Hill) and Rutherford (Murfreesboro, Smyrna) counties. Mortenson has assisted with sports complexes and entertainment districts nationwide, including GEODIS Park in Nashville – the home of Nashville SC, the parent club of Huntsville City FC – and Atlanta’s Truist Park. Music City Baseball, the group behind the push for a franchise, was formed in 2019 and developed the Nashville Stars brand to pay homage to the Negro Leagues teams that played in Nashville. The defunct Double-A Huntsville Stars were originally owned by Nashville entrepreneur Larry Schmittou.

Life-saving bill

10th-graders could receive expanded CPR training in Alabama’s public schools in the coming school year. A bill in the Alabama Senate, SB59, would require students to receive instruction in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator.  The sponsors of the bill, State Sens. Tim Melson (R-Florence) and Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), are more than familiar with the importance of training in the life-saving technique. Melson was on a recruiting trip to South Korea with an Alabama delegation last year when he suffered a cardiac event. Orr reportedly performed CPR for 30 minutes to save Melson’s life.

Love where you live

News of the first St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl in Athens came out this week. The Inaugural Pub Crawl in downtown Athens will be March 16 at 5 p.m. Participating restaurants include Ro’s Grille, Village Pizza, The Salty Cod, Athens Alehouse and Cellar, Old Black Bear Brewing, and Limestone Legends Billiards. Crawlers, er walkers, can join in anytime on the route in Athens’ delightful downtown. Apparently, an Athens enthusiast came up with idea for a pub crawl and has spearheaded the celebration in a show of support and appreciation of the downtown area’s thriving entertainment and eats scene.

Athens Pub Crawl (Contributed)

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