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Birmingham welcomes professional soccer
Twenty-thirteen was a successful year in sports for the city of Birmingham. Last year, the Birmingham Barons opened in their new stadium and won Double-A championship, and UAB had a great soccer season, finishing 12-5-1.
The new year is looking like a big year as well with a new professional soccer team forming in Birmingham, the Birmingham Hammers.
Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. On June 12th of this year the FIFA World Cup will begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with Spain attempting to defend its 2010 World Cup championship.
It is said that 400 million people watch each game for the FIFA world cup, and 800 million watched the final between Spain and Netherlands in 2010.
With soccer having such international popularity, it therefore makes sense that Birmingham is trying to put together a team of its own.
As a growing city, Birmingham has already been developing opportunities in soccer for many years. For instance, the city has travel leagues for players under the age of 18. Now, travel leagues start for kids as young as 10 years old. The BUSA (Birmingham United Soccer Association) actually has a recreational soccer league for children that are only four years old. Birmingham is much bigger soccer town than many people assume.
“I’m excited about this. I think it will be a huge success, especially, with all the club teams around,” soccer fanatic and UAB student, Alex Tsekouras said.
There are club teams from U6 all the way through U18.
“There is a very big soccer community around Birmingham. There will be a huge following in Alabama and probably for the South. There isn’t another major league teams in the south. The closest professional soccer team is in Ohio,” Tsekouras said.
Morgan Copes and John Killian, owners of the Hammers, are the individuals behind bringing the soccer franchise to the Magic City.
However, the Hammers will not begin their career in Major League Soccer, but in minor league, like the USL Pro League or the North America Soccer League.
However, if they continue to expand in popularity, there is the possibility of the Hammers being made an MLS team.
Birminghamians have been wanting for professional teams for years. From the loss of the Birmingham Bulls, the failure of the XFL and losing the Bolts, citizens have wanted to have teams to call their own.
That change is happening, with the Barons moving back to Birmingham and now the Hammers, Birmingham is back on the rise in the sporting world.
Who knows, maybe next a stadium will be built close to the campus.
Having a professional soccer team would be extremely beneficial for the city of Birmingham.
In addition to putting Birmingham more on the map in terms of athletics, the team will generate revenue for the city if the community comes together to support it.