The UAB Blazers didn’t play football in 2015 or 2016, amid some murky budgetary decision-making by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. The program’s shutdown was devastating, and it was exciting when the team rose from the grave in 2017 and made a bowl game.
Now, the Blazers’ future seems more secure. The same board of trustees that shut down the program less than four years ago recently reached a lease deal with the builders of a new stadium in downtown Birmingham. Those builders have now sold a bunch of bonds to help fund the planned $175 million venue, meaning UAB’s new home should actually get built:
It’s supposed to be finished in 2021. Maybe that means in time for football season.
(A note: The stadium’s part of an estimated $300 million project that includes other upgrades in the area. Not all of that’s for the stadium.)
UAB has played at ancient Legion Field since 1991.
That stadium, which also hosts the Birmingham Bowl, seems mildly charming in the same way any old stadium does. When there are lots of people there, it can still look pretty:
Still, the Blazers’ continued existence feels like much more of a sure thing now that they’re going to have a home that wasn’t built in 1927.
Whenever new stadiums get built, the people building them predict that they’ll bring in tons of money, create jobs, and help the community grow. The people in charge here are saying the same things, and who knows if they’re right or not.
Often, those predictions aren’t true, and I have no idea if a reported $175 million stadium for a Conference USA football team (among other events) could possibly be a good economic idea.
But UAB’s players and fans had to suffer through the devastating loss of their team not long ago. Through that lens, it’s exciting that this new field is on the way for them.