Cutting to the Chase: New stadium not a priority

By on August 16, 2013
uab-stadium-illustration

A few months back there were slight rumblings and murmurs from die-hard Blazer fans that the possibility of an on-campus stadium may become a reality sooner than we think. Not so fast.

UAB President, Ray Watts, has taken a stance on the issue and apparently, the new stadium is not very high on the Board of Trustees “to do” list.

According to an article by Evan Belanger for AL.com, Watts commented that the stadium proposal was not a top priority at this time. Watts went on to say, “because of the uncertainty of the federal budget and the implications of that for an institution like ours, we’re going to hold off on any other major capital projects and use the resources we have to be as effective as possible.”

The biggest problem UAB faces in justifying an on campus stadium is fan attendance and support. The original stadium presentation, which was put forth by former UAB president Carol Garrison, proposed building a 30,000 seat stadium that would cost an estimated $75 million. If fan attendance was the only problem maybe promotions or incentives could be given to increase the fan base; however, when you go several years without a winning season it becomes rather difficult to coerce even avid fans to willingly travel any distance to witness their team lose.

One former player, identified by his online screen name, husky13, commented, “as a former player at UAB I can tell you that UAB has done a great job to even compete with the resources that we have. All we want is the same resources that all the other teams in our conference have so that we can be competitive. It would be scary to see UAB football with facilities that half way compete with other teams in our conference (Southern Miss, ECU, Marshall, Tulsa, UTEP, etc.). We still beat Southern Miss every year without those facilities, just think what we could do with them…”

Cain, another Blazer fan, chimed in stating that “from a managerial standpoint I personally think Dr. Watts is approaching this correctly. If UAB loses funding for its medical and engineering programs there won’t be a university to field a team in any stadium. I would attend the basketball games, but good luck on boosting attendance at OLD Legion Field. I couldn’t care less about the area it’s in, as I’m not afraid of that. My fear is that the old concrete stands will crack and crumble underneath us and we would all be on CNN… Legion Field should be demolished… for safety.”

However, the idea has not been totally cast aside. Watts said in February that his main focus in regards to the athletic department was to increase fan participation and apparently there are steps being taken to bolster support from the student body, faculty staff, and the entire Birmingham community.

Blazer fans can do their part by supporting Fan Day, which is scheduled for August 24, 2013 at THE Shops at Grand River at 11 a.m. Football Fans will be able to meet BLAZE the mascot, the UAB coaching staff and players, who will be signing autographs and photos of the team.

Chase Cole
Senior Staff Writer
chasecole@uab.edu

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