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Legion Field looking grim
Recently the City of Birmingham has made great strides to improve the downtown area in an effort to make it more attractive to residents, visitors and most importantly businesses and industries looking for new locales to expand their interests. But for a town who claims to love football and has always hosted bowl games, title games, concerts and championships over the years, Legion
Field has become the scourge of the town and some say it truly is a lesion on the dermis of the city.
One of the most innovative moves Birmingham has made is the creation of the Railroad Park, which spans 19 acres through downtown and has enriched an area that was dilapidated and overgrown with rubbish. The idea was that the park would attract a diverse group of individuals who enjoy outdoor activities, family picnics and open-air exercise. The $22 million project has been a success so far much to the chagrin of many critics.
Just a couple of years after the completion of the Railroad Park, the city was given yet another upgrade with Regions Park, the amazing new $60 million stadium that opened a few months ago, giving Birmingham both the oldest and newest baseball stadiums in the country. This 8,500 seat, brick and steel marvel is state of the art and has every amenity one could dream of in a ball park. The downtown Railroad district is quickly becoming the place to be; however, just a few miles away on the west side of town sits one of the oldest and most historic stadiums in the south, and it is slowly falling into disarray.
Over the years we have seen not only UAB home games at Legion Field, but also The All- American Bowl and Hall of Fame Classics were once held at the stadium as well. The Crimson Tide played their home games at Legion Field from 1927 – 2003, the BBVA Compass Bowl is currently hosted at Legion Field, The SWAC Championships were held here and going forward. The SIAC will replace the SWAC in Birmingham and host their contests at Legion Field. There have also been a number of professional teams from the WFL, CFL and XFL who have played at the Football Capital of the South.
The problem is the stadium is old and not up to modern building codes. Several years ago the upper deck of the stadium had to be removed and there are no plans to repair or replace it since attendance at many of the events does not require the missing seats. Not to mention the area surrounding the stadium makes a number of fans uneasy about traveling to games after dusk.
Legion Field in its hay day was the place to be. This is where the Iron Bowl was born and fought for nearly 40 years. Today the Magic City Classic, which began in the 1940’s, is still hosted at Legion Field, as well as the Steel City Classic, where Miles College and Stillman College meet each season.
The fact of the matter is that for many fans, Legion Field has become an embarrassment. Granted it cost an estimated $450,000 when it was constructed in the 1920’s and to rebuild the facility of that size and with modern amenities would be a tremendous undertaking. But with so many innovations coming to the city and every other major city moving more toward modernity, environmental consciousness, and an improved quality of life, the city planning committee need consider any and all options to revitalize Legion Field.
Cities like Atlanta and Nashville attract large conventions that bring in millions of dollars in revenue each year. Their domed facilities not only house sporting events but act as multipurpose facilities. This is what Birmingham needs to do with Legion Field. The reshaping and retooling of the city can only continue with the renewal with yet another piece of its history: Legion Field.
Senior Staff Writer