What’s the Future of Legion Field?

Crowds gather for the annual Magic City Classic at Birmingham’s Legion Field. (Source: Andre Natta, Flickr)

It won’t be long before construction starts on the new Protective Stadium at the BJCC in downtown Birmingham. It’s expected to be finished in 2021. That brings up a big question: what happens to Birmingham’s current stadium, Legion Field? An article published Friday in the Birmingham Business Journal explores some options. WBHM’s Andrew Yeager spoke about those with BBJ editor Ty West.

Interview Highlights

Turning Legion Field into a youth sports complex:

“That’s an idea that we talked to some experts about and they think there is some potential there. But they cautioned us that that’s a very competitive marketplace. There’s a lot of competition for big national events that would bring tourism dollars and would bring a lot of visitors. There’s less competition, there’s a lot of demand for more regional events, things that would be Alabama-type tournaments or tournaments from the South.”

Examples from other cities:

“When the Nashville Sounds, their minor league [baseball] affiliate, built a new stadium recently, they just elected to demolish the old stadium and they’re incorporating it into a public park … Obviously the [Atlanta] Braves recently moved to a new stadium. Instead of demolishing this stadium they had a third party come in, Georgia State University. But also the land around the stadium is being redeveloped into a new commercial real estate property … Montgomery had the Cramton Bowl, similar to Legion Field, [a] historic stadium … They’ve tried to keep the Cramton Bowl alive and competitive by rethinking it as a multi-use, multi-sport complex. They are able to recruit basketball, wrestling, a lot of indoor sports.”

What will drive the decision in Birmingham:

“There’s a lot of feelings about the Magic City Classic and its future. That’s frankly a big question with Legion Field because they haven’t committed to going to Protective Stadium at this point. From what we understand, that’s going to be up to the schools, Alabama State and Alabama A&M. I do think what happens with the Magic City Classic is going to play a big role in that because if the Classic says we’ll stay in Birmingham but only if we can stay in Legion Field, then the city is going to have to look for ways that they can reinvest and keep that environment at Legion Field, maintain that facility. Obviously that would cary some costs. I think that’s going to be a key question and how that question gets answered could go a long way to determining the future of Legion Field.”