Tuscaloosa city leaders and University of Alabama officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Embassy Suites hotel that will be built downtown.
Around six UA officials including President Judy Bonner and Chancellor Robert Witt attended the ceremony. There are preliminary discussions on a deal between UA and the city of Tuscaloosa to expand the Bryant Conference Center in a joint partnership with the new hotel, according to Mayor Walt Maddox.
[More photos: Tuscaloosa Embassy Suites groundbreaking]
The hotel's developer, Kemmons Wilson, Jr. helped raise more than $600 million for the University of Alabama, according to Chancellor Witt. Wilson said the only way the hotel project could happen is with a public-private partnership.
Mayor Maddox said the city will now be able to compete against Birmingham in hotel-related events. He added that this is the kind of change he ran on for mayor in 2005.
The hotel is expected to be completed in 2014.
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