Cutting to the Chase: On-campus stadium debate reopened

By on February 27, 2013
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UAB fans have been clamoring about the prospects of an on-campus football stadium for several years. Many believe the Blazers current home, Legion Field, is outdated, inadequate, and located in an unsafe area. Considering the sub-par performances the Blazers have had over the years, the question remains: does the UAB Football program deserve its own stadium?

In 2011 former UAB President Carol Garrison delivered a proposal to the University Of Alabama System Board Of Trustees that included plans for an On-Campus Stadium that would seat 30,000 and cost an estimated $75 million.

Unfortunately the stadium never made it out of its conceptual planning stage. The board of Trustees declined the proposal for lack of financial support and fan attendance.

Some fans believe however there were other reasons why the plans never manifested and have logged onto forums like Blazertalk.com and AL.com to voice their opinions.

One fan on Blazertalk.com with the user name “ATTALLABLAZER” commented: “Where was their outcry when JSU spent $63 million to expand to 24K (seats)? Where was the outcry when ASU built an on campus stadium? Now I am all for those two schools investing in their future but it shines a clear light on the way we are treated.

These same people didn’t bat an eye at ASU and JSU and are raising hell with us.”

Another Blazertalk.com user, “BAMANBLAZERFAN”, wrote: “At the beginning of the 1990s, many thought a UAB program would be in the same “league” as Miles, Samford, Jax State, UNA, UWA, Tuskegee, etc. Beating LSU in Saban’s first year there scared a lot of the ruling cabal 60 miles to the west and they have been anti-UAB football ever since. Because of their expressions – and some of our own – they have been able to frame the adversarial situation as Crimson Tide football vs. Blazer football and that contest has had the very predictable statewide response.”

The proposed stadium from the original attempt in 2011. A new stadium design would look very similar. File Photos

The proposed stadium from the original attempt in 2011. A new stadium design would look very similar. File Photos

Al.com recently started a poll asking their readers if they believe UAB should have its own stadium. Out of the nearly 3,400 people who responded 76.58 percent say they believe UAB game attendance would increase in a new facility versus just 11.77 percent who said that game attendance would not increase with a new stadium. 8.12 percent believe UAB should only have a new stadium if attendance increases first and 3.53 percent believe the current facilities at Legion Field are more than adequate for the Blazers.

One user at Al.com “Student 4” responded to the poll by saying: “in what universe will building an on-campus stadium increase attendance??? It might improve by a small margin, yes, but nothing significant. The stadium will not change the fact that most UAB students do not live on campus in the first place, and thus are generally not interested in participating in university events. Hence the fact that even the basketball team – which actually does semi-well in its games and has a great stadium – has been seeing decreased attendance. Work on improving the apathy of the student population first, then building a stadium would make more sense. Otherwise it’ll just turn into another assembly place for empty seats.”

Nevertheless, The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees voted on Friday, February 8 to allow The University of Alabama at Birmingham to purchase the 2.4 acres of land that was suggested in the 2011 proposal as a site for the on-campus stadium.

Although the land purchase has been approved, the University says it is considering alternative uses for the site.

Ideas of how to develop the “Super Block,” which would close Fifth Avenue South between 11th and 13th Street as well as 12th street from Fourth Avenue to Sixth Avenue, have ranged from additional dormitories, parking structures and academic buildings, but a number of fans and alumni still prefer the idea of developing the land for an on-campus stadium.

UAB’s Football Program may not deserve a stadium but the University could certainly benefit from the addition. An on-campus stadium would give UAB a great venue not only for football and soccer games, but also for alternative uses such as outdoor graduations, fraternity and sorority events, and on-campus concerts. A stadium on-campus would be one step in helping change the perception of UAB from that of a commuter college into that of a traditional university.

With the installation of Ray Watts as UAB’s seventh President there may be a chance that the stadium talks will be revisited.

Watts is a proponent of UAB athletics and in his vision for the school he stated a strong desire to invest in the universities technological advancements as well exciting new programs for students, but he did not include specifics nor mention of an on-campus stadium.

For now fans will have to wait and see what will happen with the development of the new super block. The current occupants of the property have 30 months to relocate, and it may take the powers that be just that long to decide what the best option would be.

Should UAB have its own On-Campus Stadium? Let us know what you think and email the Kaleidoscope at sports@insideuab.com or chasecole@uab.edu.

Chase Cole
Senior Staff Writer
chasecole@uab.edu

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About Chase Cole

 
  • Big Blazer Fan

    I am a 62 year old former student of UAB that grew up less than 2 miles west of Legion Field. As a teenager, I sold refreshments in order to get into sporting events. Needless to say, I know the area and stadium better than most.
    In my opinion, the stadium is an embarrassment to visitors as well as the safety issues. I know it would be a positive move for the school in so many ways.
    I will be at the first game,God willing.

  • Joe Jordan

    I’ve spent a few games at Legion Field. While it was a wonderful experience for a Blazers fan, the stadium was next to empty ( maybe only 2,500 fans) and the seating arrangements should there age. Should UAB get a new stadium? Yes. UAB would greatly benefit from a smaller stadium on campus. It would be unfortunate for the historic Legion Field, however.

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