December 2, 2014 is a day that will go down as the worst day ever in UAB football history. It is a day many wished had never happened, and some still aren’t sure why it ever happened.
So many question marks surrounded a program that was shut down just as soon as it was getting started. No one was really sure when, if ever, the Blazers would play another football game.
With support at an all-time high in Birmingham, fans of UAB stopped at nothing to get football back. On July 21st, President Ray Watts reinstated the football, bowling and rifle programs at UAB.
As the countdown continues until the fall of 2017, UAB has been in multiple talks about where they will be playing those games. With new football facilities set to be built in 2017 , including a new weight room, training room, locker room and coaches offices, people are wondering if the Blazers will still be playing at The Ole Grey Lady.
Rumors have included Birmingham building a stadium near the BJCC, and they would want UAB to play their home games there. But why have these brand new facilities on campus and then have to travel to the stadium? Sure, it is not that far of a drive, but is still an inconvenience.
UAB head football coach Bill Clark said it best in one of his tweets, ” It will never happen, unless you believe it will first.” The time is now for UAB to have an on-campus stadium and here are three reasons why:
No. 1: Location, location, location
An old saying that still has truth in it today. It really is all about location. It’s no secret that Legion Field is not in the best part of town. With Birmingham on the up-and-up and trying to revitalize downtown, fixing Legion Field up needs to be a priority, or getting rid of it completely.
This past week the 10th annual Birmingham Bowl was played at Legion Field, and I saw a number of tweets from fans saying how drastic the change of venue is from Uptown, the premier entertainment district of the BJCC, to where Legion Field is currently located. An on-campus stadium in a newer and better location would prove vital for the Blazers.
No. 2: Students would feel more connected
If a stadium was within walking distance of campus, more students would attend. They would feel more connected with the team, and they would have an interest in the team. As I noted in my last article, the first home basketball game had more than 1,477 students in attendance – the most in 10 years. This is a perfect example of how the student body is fully behind UAB, and ready to support the football team. The support from the students at UAB is at an all-time high.
No. 3: Something to do in Birmingham
Look at the Birmingham Barons as an example; they moved into Regions Field three years ago, and it has been one of the most popular things to do in Birmingham. People like to go to a nice state-of-the-art stadium in a premiere location and enjoy a night out.
I bet if you asked most in attendance if they were a die hard fan of the Barons not many would say yes – many would not even know anyone on the roster. That is no disrespect to the Barons, that is just how it is.
This could happen to UAB as well. Let’s say Auburn or Alabama are both playing away games, or you could not find tickets to that weeks’ game, they would have a solid alternative to choose from. Having a nice, on-campus stadium would draw the casual football fans to games as well.
Also, when we have games on Thursday nights more fans may come out. Look at the attendance when the US Women’s National Team came to town to play a friendly. There were 35,753 people who came to watch them play a soccer game!
Birmingham has the sports fans, and having a newer, nicer place to watch football would prove beneficial. I am not saying UAB need’s Jerry World (the Dallas Cowboys stadium) by any means, but they do deserve to have an on-campus stadium that they can call home.
“The fun is in making the path.” This is something else Coach Clark tweeted, which has a very unique outlook on this situation. Their may never be an on-campus stadium at UAB during my time, but maybe one day I can come back and enjoy a football game on campus. That truly would be a win for Birmingham.