Saban Family Makes $1 Million Donation to Fund New Children’s Center in Tuscaloosa
The Saban Family has made a $1 million dollar donation to bring together the Children's Hands-On Museum, the Tuscaloosa Public Library, and the Tuscaloosa Children's Theater under one roof in the new Saban Center.
The announcement was made today, marking the 200th birthday of the City of Tuscaloosa. The Saban Center marks a unique public-private partnership under the roof of what is currently the Tuscaloosa News building.
"Terry and I could not be happier to partner with Mayor Maddox and the city of Tuscaloosa in the building and development of the multifaceted learning center which will present and encourage cutting edge knowledge and research in STEM as well as the arts,” said Nick Saban. “Children and adults alike will benefit from this incredible facility with many different ways of displaying knowledge including hands on experiences. This project fits our strong commitment to education as an end in itself as well as a door to open opportunities for all.”
As part of the City’s Elevate Tuscaloosa Initiative, The Saban Center will bring STEM programs together with theater, literature, outdoor recreation, and interactive learning for children and families in Tuscaloosa and surrounding area. The over 100,000 square foot center, located across Jack Warner Parkway from the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, sits on nearly ten acres of green space overlooking the Black Warrior River. The building will be redesigned to feature modern architecture, flexible indoor-outdoor gathering spaces, and potential retail/restaurant uses. The gathering spaces and the black-box theater will be available to the public for community events.
“We are proud that our name will be a part of this project and a part of our legacy in Alabama. The Saban Center will be the crowning jewel in downtown Tuscaloosa complimenting the Riverwalk, the Farmer's market, and the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, and will elevate our city to be a special place in the nation for education, entertainment and lifestyle," Terry Saban said.
The Saban Center will also include a public park on the Black Warrior River adjacent to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater. “A gateway to Western Tuscaloosa, the park will be a family-friendly outdoor extension of The Saban Center with open green space, river-viewing areas, and river access,” Brendan Moore, Executive Director of Urban Development, says. “It will offer the opportunity for coordinated community events and programming that tie outdoor recreation to the interactive STEM and arts programming inside of the building.” Intersected by the Riverwalk, the park will be pedestrian- and biker-friendly, with easy walking or biking access to the Tuscaloosa River Market, Manderson Landing, and other riverfront parks.
“From the moment Elevate Tuscaloosa was proposed, the City Council believed that the generosity and imagination of this community would create unforeseen opportunities. The Saban Center reflects this shared belief. By combining the visions of the partnering organizations with the Saban Family’s heart for service beyond self, Tuscaloosa will be the home of an elite experiential learning center,” Mayor Walt Maddox explained. “Tuscaloosa is in competition with the world. Education has always been a key component of Elevate Tuscaloosa, and when the Saban Center opens, our community will have a state of the art, interactive center educating the next generation and preparing them to succeed beyond measure. In this bicentennial year, today’s announcement of the Saban Center makes clear our determination to be the most innovative city in our nation now and into the future.”
Construction on the park could begin as early as Fall of 2020. The park is predicted to open in the Spring of 2021. Master planning of the building will begin in early 2020. Construction on the building is expected to begin in 2023. The Tuscaloosa News will remain in their current location until construction begins.
The Tuscaloosa City Council voted to purchase the Tuscaloosa News Building on Oct. 1, 2019 for $7.925 million. The Elevate Advisory Committee unanimously approved the recommendation to begin the master planning process for the project on Oct. 24, 2019. Each phase of the plan for The Saban Center will be reviewed by the Elevate Advisory Council and by the Tuscaloosa City Council.
To learn more about The Saban Center, view conceptual renderings for the building and the park, and sign up for email notifications, visit sabancenter.org.