Birmingham City Council

Birmingham City Council Delays Proposed $30 Million Renovations to Legion Field

Birmingham City Councilor William Parker (Source: Sam Prickett

Dec. 5, 2017 — The Birmingham City Council discussed a proposed five-year, $30 million renovation to Legion Field during Tuesday’s meeting.

Though parks and recreation committee Chairman William Parker eventually elected to withdraw the measure from consideration, members of the council indicated that discussions of the proposed plan would continue.

Parker’s plan, which he said was “in the infancy stage,” would spend just less than $30 million dollars on improvements to the stadium, which opened in 1927. Though 2015 renovations to the stadium improved its scoreboard and sound system, Parker’s proposal would take a more holistic approach over the course of five years, starting with the 2018 fiscal year and ending in 2022.

“I really applaud Councilor Parker … for coming up with this plan, because whatever revitalization is employed with respect to Legion Field, then it needs to be a comprehensive plan,” Councilor Steven Hoyt said. “We’ve still got some things to figure out, but at least we have a starting point, and we have a facility that can be transformed to something even greater and better.”

Councilor Lashunda Scales was outspoken in her support of the plan, arguing that, because the city owns the stadium, it should prioritize its upkeep.

“We’ve been talking about the city not taking care of its own facilities for quite some time,” she said. “I know that others are asking the city to support their endeavor, but what about the city supporting itself?

“I hope that this won’t be a four-year conversation and in 2021 we’re still talking about Legion Field,” she continued. “I hope we don’t allow filibustering to get involved.” She urged citizens to look to Atlanta’s Turner Field, which several councilors visited last week, as an example “of what the city is trying to engage in.”

Councilors Darrell O’Quinn and Sheila Tyson were more lukewarm on the proposal, with O’Quinn remarking, “There is a lot of due diligence that is yet to be done with regard to this matter. … We need to evaluate the best use of public dollars to generate the best return on investment.”

Tyson, meanwhile, expressed concern that members of the surrounding neighborhoods had not been given adequate opportunity to comment on the issue.

Councilor Hunter Williams suggested that the renovations be co-opted by other entities, such as neighboring cities, the county and private entities.

“There’s no reason that we as a city have to be the sole responsible party,” he said. “I would urge my fellow colleagues and the mayor’s office to bring other people to the table. … We own that property but we’ve kind of been slumlords to it. It’s really not impressive.”

Eventually, Parker elected to withdraw the item so that the council could discuss the project further. No date was set for when the item would be reconsidered.

The full itemized list of proposed renovations to Legion Field is as follows:

  • Parking lots upgrades: $4.5 million
  • Bleacher upgrades: $3.5 million
  • Restroom upgrades: $3.5 million
  • Light tower replacement: $3.5 million
  • Painting of stadium structure: $3 million
  • Resurface the tarmac/select drives: $3 million
  • Skyboxes/suite upgrades: $2.5 million
  • Concession/Caterer’s kitchen upgrades: $2 million
  • New surveillance/security equipment: $1.35 million
  • North end zone/east scoreboard replacement: $800,000
  • Field turf replacement: $500,000
  • Façade (plaza) improvement: $350,000
  • Legion Field branding: $350,000
  • Resurface the Red at the field: $269,500
  • Install new Wi-Fi: $250,000
  • Install new ADA signage: $200,000

Total: $29,569,500