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Legion Field is a large stadium in Birmingham, Alabamamarker primarily designed to be used as a venue for American football, but is occasionally used for other large outdoor events. The stadium is named in honor of the American Legion, a U.S. organization of military veterans. At its peak it seated 83,091 people for football. Today, after the removal of the upper deck, Legion Field seats approximately 71,594 spectators.

Legion Field currently serves as the home field of the UAB Blazers, who compete in Conference USA.

Stadium history

Construction of a 21,000 seat stadium began in 1926 at the cost of $439,000. It was completed in 1927 and named Legion Field in honor of the American Legion. In the stadium's first event, 16,800 fans watched Howard Collegemarker shut out Birmingham-Southern Collegemarker 9-0 on November 19, 1927.

Over the years, the stadium grew. The bowl was enclosed. In 1961, a 9,000 seat upper deck was added to the stadium. In 1965, a new press box was built in the stadium. In 1969, lights were added to the stadium to allow for televised night games.

In 1970, the natural grass turf was replaced with Poly-Turf, which was replaced by Astroturf in 1975. The turf was changed to Bermuda grass in 1996 in order to host olympic soccer.

In 2004 a structural evaluation determined that the 9,000 seat upper deck would need major remediation to meet modern building codes. With little prospect of adequate repairs on the way, the University of Alabamamarker withdrew the few home games it still scheduled for Birminghammarker. The city removed the upper deck in 2005 since the capacity was greater than the need for its tenants.

In 2006, the City of Birmingham decided to change the playing surface to an artificial Field Turf in the hopes of hosting more high school football games in the stadium.

Football

The most famous use of Legion Field is for college football games. Both the University of Alabamamarker and Auburn Universitymarker have used this stadium for games across their history, primarily due to its size and location. It currently serves as the home stadium for the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Iron Bowl

Legion Field is best-known for hosting the season-ending game between Alabama and Auburn each year from 1948 to 1988. Because of Birmingham's major industry of iron and steel manufacturing, the game became known as the "Iron Bowl." From the series' resumption in 1948 to 1987,each team rotated which claimed home-field. Tickets were divided 50/50 like the Florida/ Georgia game & the Texas/ Oklahoma game until the game moved to Jordon-Hare in 1989 In 1989 Auburn moved their home games in the series to Jordan-Hare Stadiummarker, although they did play one last home game at Legion Field in 1991. Alabama followed suit in 2000. Alabama holds a 32-15 edge over their in-state rival in games played at Legion Field.

Other Alabama and Auburn football games

Due to its size and location, both Alabama and Auburn have used this stadium for other football games.

Prior to 1999, the University of Alabama played at least three home football games there every season. The capacity of Legion Field was larger than that of Bryant-Denny Stadiummarker and Birmingham was more accessible than Tuscaloosa for much of the 20th century. Alabama played their home game against Tennessee at Legion Field until 1999.

After the addition of the east upper deck to Bryant-Denny Stadiummarker in 1998, the capacity of Bryant-Denny exceeded that of Legion Field. Due to the disrepair of Legion Field and the added capacity in Tuscaloosa, Alabama moved major conference games to campus. In the ensuing years, Alabama decreased the number of games scheduled in Birmingham. The last home game for Alabama at Legion Field was against the University of South Florida on August 30, 2003. Though they had a couple of games scheduled at Legion Field in 2005 and 2008, the disrepair to the stadium and the structural issues to the upper deck led Alabama to end their contract with the city of Birmingham in 2004 and move all home games to Tuscaloosa. [67284]

Auburn also used Legion Field for some home games due to the size and the difficulty for teams to travel to Auburn for much of the 20th century. Auburn played their home game against Tennessee at Legion Field until 1972, and against Georgia Tech until 1970.

Other college football games

Legion Field has hosted a number of other college football games. The annual Magic City Classic between Alabama A&M Universitymarker and Alabama State Universitymarker has been played here since 1946. The Steel City Classic featuring Miles College and Stillman Collegemarker are played at Legion Field. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge was played at Legion Field, moved to Orlando for years 2008 through 2010.

Birmingham-Southern College played against Mississippi College's junior varsity team in Legion Field on September 6, 2007 in their first football game since 1939.

In terms of postseason play, the Southwestern Athletic Conference uses the stadium for their conference championship. The Southeastern Conference played their first two conference title games here, in 1992 and 1993.

This stadium has also hosted four different bowl games in its history:

Professional football

Legion Field has served as the home stadium for various professional football teams in Birmingham. It served as home field for the Birmingham Americans (Vulcans) of the World Football League (1974–1975), the Alabama Vulcans of the American Football Association (1979), the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League (1983–1985), and the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football (now NFL Europe) in 1991–92. In 1995, it was the home field of the Birmingham Barracudas for their single season of play as part of the short-lived expansion of the Canadian Football League into the United States In (2001), it was the home field for the single season of the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the XFL.

In 1968, the Boston Patriots played one "home" game against the New York Jets at Legion Field. The Jets, featuring former Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, won the game 47-31.

High school football

Legion Field has hosted various high school football games throughout its history. From 1996 until 2008, Legion Field was used by the Alabama High School Athletic Association for the Super Six high school football championships.

Soccer

Recently, Legion Field had been used successfully as a site for major soccer events, including preliminary matchups in the 1996 Summer Olympics – the opening match between the United States and Argentina drew 83,810 spectators, the stadium's all-time record for any event. All of the concluding-round soccer games moved to Athens, Georgiamarker after preliminary games had been played in various other cities.

Legion Field had also hosted exhibition games by the U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams, and in 2005 it hosted a World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Guatemala.

When the City of Birmingham changed back to an artificial turf field, the United States Soccer Federation announced that it will no longer be scheduling men's national team games for playing in Legion Field.

Concerts

Legion Field has also been used as a concert venue. The Rolling Stones played at Legion Field on October 5, 1989 on their Steel Wheels tour with Living Color opening and on August 4, 1994 during their Voodoo Lounge tour. The Counting Crows opened the latter evening.

Progressive Rock group Pink Floyd also played at Legion Field on May 1, 1994 during the worldwide "Pulse" tour. U2 also played the stadium for their ZOO TV tour on October 7, 1992.

In 1979 and 1980, the facility played host to the Drum Corps International World Championships.

Attendance records

UAB Attendance Records
Opponent Attendance
1 Southern Miss (2003) 44,669
2 Mississippi State (2006) 36,104
3 TCU (2004) 33,280
4 Troy (2006) 32,818
5 Virginia Tech (1998) 31,897
6 Southern Miss (2005) 31,363
7 Kansas (1998) 30,543
8 Houston (1999) 28,573
9 Memphis (2004) 27,192
10 Alabama State (2008) 26,414


Photographs

Image:Legion Field Scoreboard.jpg|Legion Field ScoreboardImage:Legion Field outside.jpg|Exterior View from Graymont AvenueImage:BearBryant.jpg|Bear Bryant Monument in Front of StadiumImage:Legion Field - Alabama.jpg|Satellite image taken in January 2004Image:Legion Field - with upper deck.jpg|Photo of the stadium before the upper deck was demolished.



References

  1. " Alabama forced to abandon unsafe Legion Field" (August 19, 2003) Associated Press
  2. http://www.patriots.com/stadium/index.cfm?ac=stadium


External links




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