April 11th, 2019, a day in our city’s history we should never forget. Protective Stadium was born, finalizing the deal to have a new stadium in the city of Birmingham, Alabama. A stadium to show the renaissance of our great city to the world and the country. No longer on fall nights will people tune into TV and see UAB being played in a half-empty rotting stadium, in a shell of the former football capital of the south. No longer will the Birmingham Bowl broadcast a rotting stadium to the nation. Legion Field will no longer top the lists of worst D-1 stadiums. Instead, UAB will be playing in one of the nicest Group of 5 stadiums, to sellout crowds in the heart of uptown. In 2022 the World Games will host its opening ceremonies in our shining new stadium, showing the world the magic site. Building a new stadium has been a long time coming for the Magic City but the road is almost over.
Our city’s first great stadium was Legion Field, affectionately known as “the old gray lady.” Built in 1926, the stadium could hold nearly 83,000 people. Legion Field hosted the Iron Bowl until 2000 when Alabama followed Auburn’s lead and started to host the game on the campus of the schools. The stadium played host to most Alabama home games until the late 90s. The University of Alabama had a contract to play some home games at Legion Field Through 2008 but the contract was voided early due to the state the stadium was in. After the voiding of the contract, the upper deck was removed due to it being structurally unsafe. Legion field became borderline unusable with the rusting exterior of the stadium standing as a testament to how far the city of Birmingham had fallen up until that point. Legion field still hosted the Birmingham Bowl, The Magic City Classic, and UAB football when it was active but it was clear a replacement was needed.
In 2006, a Domed stadium was proposed and in 2010 drawings were produced and a study was set up by the city. The city would spend half a billion dollars to build this dome that would have no tenants with UAB football at the time being an afterthought and the World Games not even a twinkle in the eyes of the city council. The project, like many others, failed. The dream became real, though, after the shutdown of UAB, the greatest thing to happen to Birmingham in years.
The city rallied behind UAB football, and led by Bill Clark and the great students of UAB, we willed UAB football back into existence and showed enough support to will Protective Stadium into existence. Now that our stadium journey is over, it is now time to support and sell out every event there, to show our city can support what we, together as a community built. Just as we willed UAB football back into existence, we shall will them to victory in our new home. Go Birmingham and Go blazers.