BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The price of victory is high, but so are the rewards. That was one of Bear Bryant’s favorite sayings as the football coach at the University of Alabama. Results in sports are easy to read, on a scoreboard. The future of sports in Birmingham is a little more difficult.
Legion Field, once the football capital of the south, now a rusted, relic of what Birmingham was – the centerpiece of southern sports. Over the years, Atlanta and Nashville passed the magic of our city by constantly building new and updated facilities. Meanwhile, Birmingham just got older, and older.
But a new day is coming.
A new outdoor stadium will host UAB football, the Magic City Classic, USA soccer events, and so much more. Those events will have a unique energy because the stadium will be surround by a growing entertainment district. “That’s going to become a very thriving part of the sports scene here in Birmingham and replace Legion Field. A lot of history there, but it’s time to replace it.,” says Gene Hallman.
Some of the new memories will come from UAB. The football team has a new energy, but the NCAA sports sands are shifting under them. Hallman sees the writing on the wall. By 2025, UAB, Alabama and Auburn will no longer be in the same division. At least he thinks so, “They’ll be a separation of division of division one. Doesn’t mean football will be any less entertaining. It’s just not going to be the same. These schools economically cannot keep up.”
One of the more exciting items that will happen over the next decade is a total remodeling of the Legacy Arena at the BJCC. Some venues have been built for tomorrow. Regions Field is a diamond in the baseball world and the Barons only get stronger. Barber Motorsports Park continues to expand. The Crossplex in west Birmingham will have new retail venues going up around it, making it more attractive for Olympic sports. Golf will continue to boom. In a decade, we’ll be hosting the 35th and 36th Regions Tradition on the golf tour.
The biggest growth though may come in Hoover where the new multi-million dollar editions to the Hoover Met will open the door for a boom in youth sports, all on one location. “For these types of facilities and from a tourism perspective it going to be phenomenal,” says Hallman.
All of this, pieced together, makes the next decade very exciting on the sports landscape. No, the NFL, or the NBA may not calling Birmingham’s name, but the Magic City has found its niche.
“We’re not competing with a national sports team for the entertainment dollar or the media space, like you would in Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, New Orleans,” says Hallman. “Here we don’t have that and it’s a benefit when it comes to hosting a wide variety of sporting events.”
So with all that the Magic City sports horizon has ever looked better.