By The Associated Press
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The University of Alabama at Birmingham has played its last game at Birmingham’s legendary Legion Field, leaving the stadium known as the “Football Capital of the South” with few tenants.
That history was on a lot of minds at the UAB spring intrasquad game on Saturday.
“As I was in the locker room today, I was thinking of all the great memories I have had here,” UAB Coach Bill Clark told local news outlets. “The high school games, the great locker room celebrations, the Children’s Harbor games. Legion Field has given us some great memories.”
Players too were thinking of all the legendary tilts that have taken place on the field.
“You know all the greats that played on this field, Alabama, Auburn, this is an historic stadium so leaving it for the final time, I have to take a moment and just soak it all in,” said UAB linebacker Alex Wright.
UAB is heading to a new Protective Stadium that is scheduled to open in October in downtown Birmingham near its campus after 30 years at city-owned Legion Field.
The stadium named for the American Legion opened in 1927 and was host to University of Alabama and Auburn University games for decades, including the annual Iron Bowl between the two schools. That game hasn’t been played in Birmingham since 1998.
Auburn once hosted as many as three games a year at Legion Field, but played its last home game there in 1991. Alabama played its last home game in Birmingham in 2003. The Alabama High School Athletic Association’s football championships left after 2008, and most Birmingham public schools have started playing at their own stadiums.
One notable tenant that remains is the Magic City Classic, the annual tilt between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University that remains scheduled for the stadium this fall.
The stadium, which once held 83,000, saw its capacity cut to 71,000 in 2005 after its upper deck was removed because of structural issues.
LeRoy Simmons, a UAB fan said Saturday that he’s been to many games at Legion Field, but looks forward to a new home for Blazer football.
“I’m a season ticket holder for UAB. I’ve already purchased my tickets for Protective Stadium, so next week I get to choose my seats,” Simmons said. “We’re moving right along from the old grey lady to the Blazer den.”