Birmingham residents protest new stadium funding, state senate approves it unanimously anyway

Still on the road, but just wanted to chime in briefly to note these two headlines from Birmingham:

Opposition to proposed downtown Birmingham stadium grows

Car lease tax for BJCC stadium approved by Alabama Senate

In short: Residents of the neighborhood around Legion Field are upset that the city and state would be spending money on building a new stadium, leaving their 90-year-old one pretty much redundant. The state senate, meanwhile, went ahead and voted unanimously to approve a 3% car rental tax surcharge to help pay for the new stadium, which will mostly be used for University of Alabama-Birmingham football and for Birmingham Legion F.C., a USL expansion franchise starting play next year.

A vote on the car tax still needs to take place in the state house, where a bill is being proposed to instead raise it by 6%, with the additional money to go toward tourism and economic development in other parts of the city. That does not necessarily sound like a better idea, and it’s unclear whether it would make Legion Field neighbors happy, but debating over whether to spend a bunch of money on an unneeded stadium or twice as much money on an unneeded stadium and possible other unneeded projects is about par for the course of how I’d expect these things to go.


16 comments on “Birmingham residents protest new stadium funding, state senate approves it unanimously anyway

  1. I am for this project. Why? There are very few examples of where I believe a team (Pro or College) is in dire need of something new (the Islanders come to mind, as do the UAB Blazers), this is one of them. How bad? If you made a list of the WORST Stadiums/Arenas (College and Pro) in this Country, Legion Field is right at the top (Along with Tropicana Field (Rays), and of course, Oakland). Now, to be fair, I have never been to Birmingham, but I have seen UAB games on TV, and it reminds me of the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland prior to the Indians moving out of there. That says it all.

    • Regardless of the quality of the existing stadium, the public shouldn’t pay for a new one. If the school wants one, let them finance it.

    • LOL. You’ve never been to Birmingham so you can wholeheartedly support the locals spending THEIR money on a new stadium, whether they want one or not. Assuming you don’t live in my town, I’ll back any large tax measure proposed in your area–price is no object. I’m sure it’ll be great once you get done paying for it.

    • If in fact you actually saw UAB “football” on TV, you saw all of the empty stadium seats game after game (Never a full house). UAB football tickets are a “hard give-away ticket” even when Auburn and Alabama, Miles College, Samford, Birmingham Southern, Alabama A&M, Bama State are out of town. Sum UAB has no real fan attendance base willing to buy tickets juxtaposed to “fake” paid attendance. What is the real paid turnstile numbers (and moving to a “downtown stadium) will not change those numbers.

      The most recent NCAA analysis of operating deficits for programs like UAB should give an sober and reasonably prudent Trustee or taxpayer a sober jolt of financial reality. UAB football is a red ink Madoff/Ponzi scheme. UAB wisely hedged its bet on UAB football by only agreeing to a 10-year “lease” (no confidence that this football program will be around a full 10 years before it disbands a second time.

      If Mayor and Council of the City of Birmingham can patch $90 million dollars together, it is better prioritized by dedicating those funds to its K-12 schools as its first priority and saving its failed school system (See the Alabama State Department of Education Academic “Report Card” on Birmingham City Schools, grades of Fs and Cs – and this week defending against a recent manslaughter at Huffman High School.

      Birmingham’s priorities are misplaced, turnedupside down. Education is the fuel that drives economies – not football.

      Birmingham is being pimped by sports. It’s minor league Baseball team, the “Barons” flipped what was supposed to be a “revenue” generating lease into a municipally funded General Obligation Municipal Bond of the City of Birmingham . . . Get the bait and switch of the savvy sports promotors? UAB reasons COB (City of Birmingham) is W. C. Field’s “Sucker Born Every Minute.”

      This is not the First time COB is being induced to be duped on capitalized sports leases. According to COB’s own financial statements, COB ratios of outstanding “debt type” the last ten fiscal years, tax payers carry 14.48% or $2,680 per resident on debt, higher than its comparable regional counterpart municipality and pays that debt back slower than their counterparts do too.

      Birmingham has become a payday loan, borrow-tax and spend ( “Hustle ad Flow” ) leader of the South-Land Conference.

      The local school improvement think tank, Citizens For Better Schools & Sustainable Communities is pushing back on the UAB football lease funding, arguing that Birmingham’s price multiples would be “better invested in funding core academic programs for K-8 schools, neighborhood-community revitalization, and smart-balanced public safety initiatives”, said CFBSC CEO Ronald Jackson.

      “Question becomes does Birmingham value more than recreation or entertainment. Long-term human development or ephemeral thrills on the playing fields. the real field of dreams are born and nourished in our public schools classrooms, Mr. Jackson concluded.

  2. Wait, I thought the USL team was getting a small (5000 seats or so) stadium that was separate from the UAB deal? But these things run together so I could be wrong. 45-55k seats is too big for MLS much less USL.

    • The USL team is going to play at the University’s soccer stadium until this new one is completed.


      Yeah the soccer stadium is a separate deal; the existing UAB soccer stadium is being renovated and expanded to seat 6,000 and will house both the UAB soccer team and the new USL team.

      • Is it definitive they’ll play in the new football stadium when its completed? The soccer references I’ve seen relating to it have been that it could host international soccer, not the USL team.

        • From what I’ve read, they signed an 8 year deal to use the UAB soccer stadium, and they can only get out of it after 5 years. The stadium would be built before the five year mark.

  3. Wonder if their neighborhood home values would increase if Legion Field were torn down. Then the land put to better, tax generating, use.

  4. Don’t these people know these types of surcharges on discretionary items never ever ever ever ever work. Take my home state of Nevada: that hotel tax revenue to pay for a convention center that will be outdated upon completion and a stadium for a team in a dying sport: well it’s been short of projections for the last 4 months. Only 24 more years to go in paying off those bonds.

  5. This is bordering on Fake News (using he proper definition, which is the presentation of facts using a false narrative).

    Facts: UAB football and a USL soccer team would use the BJCC stadium.

    False narrative: The stadium is being built for UAB and a USL team.

    The true purpose of the stadium is to move the Magic City Classic to the BJCC area. The MCC draws a ton of alumni from the two HBCUs that play in the annual game.

    What’s more, the fact that the BJCC stadium is primarily being used to move the MCC downtown nullifies one of the stadium haters’ favorite arguments: the substitution effect. The MCC draws mostly out-of-town spending and the idea is that the out-of-town spending will increase by having alumni & family gathered around downtown, rather than being scattered throughout the Birmingham area during MCC weekend.

    • Ben, you’re seriously arguing that the spending at one college football game a year is enough to justify building an entire football stadium?

  6. The USL team signed a deal to play for 8 years at the local college stadium.

    So, this stadium is being built to accommodate 6-8 minor college football games. This would be a terrible waste of taxpayer money.

  7. Stadium is too small for magic city classic. Area is too small for the tailgating. Legion Field will be upgraded to keep the classic.