UAB stadium proposal put on hold

Rob Foldy-US PRESSWIRE

Alabama-Birmingham's new president says that an on-campus football arena is not a top priority.

New University of Alabama-Birmingham president Ray Watts said this week that a proposed outdoor football stadium is "not a top strategic priority" for the university and plans won't move forward for the time being, according to a report from AL.com:

"While addressing the University of Alabama at Birmingham's new fundraising campaign, Watts said this week the stadium proposal is 'not a top strategic priority for us.'

'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,' he said."

Watts did say that he is focusing on improving attendance at UAB sporting events, though he chose not detail any specific plans for attracting students, alumni, and local fans to the Blazers' games. "I think you'll see over the coming year a very intensive program to get our faculty and employees and students out to support our student athletes and our teams," Watts said.

Watts inherited the stadium plan when he took over as UAB's president in February. At that time, he declined to take a specific stance on the proposal, saying instead that he is a "supporter of athletics" while directing the athletic department's focus on improving attendance. University of Alabama trustees had previously tabled the stadium proposal, citing a lack of attendance and support for the football program.

The proposed $75 million, 30,000-seat outdoor stadium was first proposed in September 2011, and would include 33 luxury suites and 24 additional boxes. More importantly, it would move the Blazers' home games on campus. UAB currently plays at the 71,000-seat Legion Field, which some students compain is far from campus and located in an unsafe neighborhood. The Blazers averaged just 15,271 fans at home games in 2012.

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