Some stadiums in college football have a mystique. Some stadiums are home to great moments, classic games, and many great players. Legion Field is one of these stadiums, or at least it was.
Opened in 1927, Legion Field was once the greatest football venue in the South. It hosted the Iron Bowl from 1948-1988, and both Alabama and Auburn played many other games here over the years, but as the facility deteriorated and their on-campus stadiums improved, they both stopped using it as an alternative.
Even the US Men's National Soccer Team has played at Legion Field, and the highest ever attendance at the stadium was for an Olympic qualifying match against Argentina in 1996, witnessed by 83,183 fans.
Although big-name colleges have left Legion Field, it still sees regular use as the home of the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers football team, which began playing there in 1991. Sadly, however, the magic and mystique of Legion Field has disappeared. What was once a great place for football has become an old, rusty, lifeless facility, all due to the city of Birmingham's inability to take care of it.
The stadium deteriorated so much that the upper deck had to be torn down due being unsafe, reducing capacity to 71,594.
At the end of the 2014 season, with a team that was bowl eligible, UAB announced they were folding their football program effective immediately.
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There are some old-style concession stands that are reasonably priced, with nothing out of the ordinary here, just hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken tenders. Shaved ice carts provide a great way to cool down on a hot afternoon for just $4. The best place to eat though is Carlile's Barbeque stand in the north end zone. There are small tables with umbrellas and pork or beef sandwiches for just $7. As well, you get a great view of the action at field level.
When you buy a ticket at the box office, you will be asked if you want the UAB or visiting side. Choose UAB, as the tickets seem nicer than those given to fans of the visiting squad. UAB fans sit on the west side of the stadium. Almost all the seats are metal benches and when it is hot and sunny, the seating bowl turns into an oven. There are some seats at the top of the UAB side that are shaded and many fans make their way there early in the game to avoid heatstroke. There are also a few box seats, but they look equally uncomfortable. There are tarps over most of the seats in both end zones too, which makes the stadium that much more unattractive.
During the game, the cheerleaders cheer and the bands play and that adds a little bit to the spectacle, but the video board above the north end zone is terrible, and the scoreboard above the south end zone is old and should be refurbished.
Legion Field is in a residential neighborhood with nothing around it. Some reports consider it to be unsafe, although during the day you won't notice anything worrisome. But I wouldn't want to hang out there at night. Really, you will drive in and out and spend not a second longer than you need to here.
If you want somewhere to eat, I would suggest going to another part of town. Some great places to eat in Birmingham include The Cantina and Bottega Cafe. Good People Brewing Company, across the street from Regions Field where the baseball Barons play, offers cheap microbrews but no regular food menu.
One place in Birmingham you should try to visit is Vulcan Park and Museum, home of the Vulcan statue, the largest cast iron statue in the world.
There are a good number of fans at Legion Field, but they can't come close to filling the stadium. It seems like a small community where everybody knows everybody else, but that just underlies that the fan base is relatively limited when compared to the other schools in the state.
There is a parking lot that looked to be free, but I chose to park on the street a block away, which makes getting out a bit easier. The stadium is just a couple of blocks south of I-20 and west of I-65 so it is easy to get to, but the neighborhood is mostly side streets and not that simple to navigate.
Inside, concourses are more than wide enough for the sparse crowd and you can sit pretty much anywhere. You can also stand at field level and watch the game through a fence for a few minutes without being hassled.
All tickets are $15 and most seats are general admission. This is very cheap for FBS football but the lack of amenities in the stadium make it difficult to spend four full hours here, especially on a hot afternoon.
There is a statue of Bear Bryant in front of the stadium that is the only historical element on display, a shame given how much has happened at Legion Field over the many decades that football has been played here.
Legion Field is clearly nearing its end of life and is no longer fully maintained, making it both fascinating and depressing to watch a game here. I rarely advise that you avoid a stadium, but this is one that a stadium traveler need not add to the bucket list when you visit Alabama. See a game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn or a Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa instead.
Some stadiums in college football have a mystique. Some stadiums are home to great moments, classic games, and many great players. Legion Field is one of these stadiums "" or at least, it was.
Legion Field, which was opened in November 1927, has hosted 53 Iron Bowls in its history. The Iron Bowl is and always has been one of the best rivalries not only in college football, but in all of sports. 53 times, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers have faced each other at Legion Field. The Birmingham behemoth was the home of every Iron Bowl played from 1904 to 1988.
Legion Field was also the home of the historic first SEC Championship Games in 1992 and 1993. In 1998, Legion Field hosted the Iron Bowl for the last time (a 31-17 Alabama win). Since then, every Iron Bowl has been played on-campus in either Auburn or Tuscaloosa.
Legion Field is still in use, however. In 1991, the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers began playing their home contests at the venue. The magic and mystique of Legion Field, however, has vanished. The stadium has deteriorated. Due to unsafe conditions, the upper deck had to be torn
down. What was once a great place for football has become an old, rusty, lifeless facility, all due to the city of Birmingham's inability to take care of it.
For the 2010 BBVA Compass Bowl, over 40,000 Kentucky and Pittsburgh fans filed in to the Legion Field grandstands as the Panthers crushed the Wildcats. Our seats were right in the front on the Pitt sideline, on row three. There's really not a bad seat in the house, but the house needs a little work. Nothing really special in Legion Field.
There's not much to say about Legion Field. Horrible venue...
Having grown up in Alabama and attended Alabama football games at "the Old Gray Lady" I have fond memories of this stadium. I have also attended a coupld of UAB games there. Admittedly, there is very little atmosphere for the UAB games, but I can still feel the history and tradition of this stadium. I wish that the city or a public/private partnership could be worked out to restore it to its rightful place as "Football Capital of The South".
As a Bama fan, I was excited to see this place, as it was "the home away from home" for Alabama for years. Then I got to the stadium and it was nothing but a dark, dreary, empty stadium, even for UAB games. The place either needs to be maintained and/or renovated for UAB because it is too expansive for the Blazers and nobody wants to come out to watch them for numerous reasons.
Food & Beverage: Very standard, and the only "out of the ordinary" thing they had was Papa John's. Yep.
Atmosphere: The game I went to, the fans were more tuned to hear the UAB BASKETBALL score than watch the football game. Nothing in terms of excitement. It felt like a cold high school football game.
Neighborhood: Bad area. Nothing anywhere near the stadium. Downtown Birmingham is your best bet.
Fans: The ones who were there were supportive somewhat, but were inclined to hear what the basketball team was doing (as I mentioned). I think most of UAB's student body are either for Alabama or Auburn anyway.
Access: Easy to get to. Take the interstate and follow the signs. You are there, but lock your doors.
ROI: I had a buddy who works there get me club seats for free. Probably the only way you are willing to go here now is if you get a free ticket.
Extras: Um, it has history?
I was there at that Southern Miss game and at the game where they had 43,000 there. I still think it needs to be shut down.
Food: At least they have Dr. Pepper
Atmosphere: it's like a jail
Neighborhood: lock your doors
Fans: There are some very passionate fans there and some that watch. They a argh around 17-18,000
Access: Large parking lot. Right off I-65
ROL: Cheep tickets, I have had people hand me tickets so it can be free
Extras: not much else.
Saw the 2014 home opener against Troy, which had a better atmosphere than other games I would think, and a few more fans. But other than that, this review is bang on. Legion Field is no longer a great venue, it is hard to believe it used to be the best stadium in Alabama.
720 29th St S
Birmingham, AL 35233
2901 2nd Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35233
2240 Highland Ave S
Birmingham, AL 35205
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