BIRMINGHAM – The multi-use stadium at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) will be named “Protective Stadium,” thanks to the generous sponsorship of Alabama’s own Protective Life Corporation.
The stadium, which is close to undergoing utility work and other site preparations, will be the home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) football team and host other major sports and entertainment events. The state-of-the-art $175 million stadium will seat up to 55,000 people.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon at Uptown Park, the future site of the stadium, city officials, Birmingham-area corporate titans and BJCC leaders celebrated the announcement and reiterated how much of an economic boon the stadium is expected to be when completed.
For example, the 2021 World Games are already scheduled for the stadium, and other international and national festivities are anticipated to follow. Combined with the renovations to Legacy Arena, Protective Stadium will turn the BJCC into a world-class entertainment destination.
“This is just the beginning for this part of Birmingham. You’re going to see, in my opinion, north Birmingham explode,” State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia) said previously. “North Birmingham will come back to life.”
Don’t Stop Believin’
Before Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” played them off the stage at the announcement event, public and private sector stakeholders stressed that the project only became possible now because all relevant corporate, government and civic entities are finally rowing in the same direction. Talks have been on-and-off regarding the stadium since 1998.
“Like many great things that have happened in Birmingham, this project would not be possible without a number of dedicated partners working together,” Johnny Johns, Protective’s Executive Chairman, stated. “The City, County, BJCC, UAB and the business community have all come together to form a collaborative coalition, and that teamwork has been instrumental in pushing this project forward. The fulfillment of this dream confirms that truly amazing things can happen in this community when we focus our energies on coming together to create our future.”
Dignitaries from the state, county and municipal levels were in attendance, including Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL), Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato.
— Sean Ross (@sean_yhn) April 11, 2019
“Protective’s sponsorship shows their long-term commitment to the city of Birmingham and the region,” Stephens said. “This creates significant momentum in the building of the stadium and is a strong example of public and private partners collaborating to create meaningful impact.”
The naming-rights agreement for Protective Stadium will last 15 years.
“Protective is proud to partner with the BJCC to make this stadium a reality. This is more than a stadium – it’s an opportunity for our community to continue thriving,” Rich Bielen, Protective’s president and CEO, emphasized. “We are invested in Birmingham’s future and remain committed to creating positive local impact – a cornerstone of our company’s foundation for more than 110 years. We are honored to continue this mission by supporting this transformational project for our city.”
Corporation subsidiary and flagship Protective Life Insurance Co. was established in 1907 and now does business in all 50 states. The corporation itself is now a wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings of Japan as of 2016. Protective just announced the largest acquisition in company history in January.
One of the Yellowhammer State’s largest corporations, Protective’s home office is located in Birmingham, and its nearly 3,000 employees are located in offices across America. Approximately 1,500 of those employees work in the Birmingham-metro area. As of September 30, the company had assets of approximately $91.8 billion.
“We are excited to welcome Protective Life Corporation as our naming rights partner for the new multi-use stadium,” Tad Snider, BJCC executive director, said. “Protective is an organization with deep ties to the Birmingham community, so their participation is going to add huge value to the project. We look forward to the partnership as we continue the development of Protective Stadium.”
The stadium is expected to be completed in 2021. Schoel Engineering Company, Inc. recently completed the site survey and Populous is finalizing stadium designs for the $174 million open-air stadium. Relocation of underground utilities and foundational work are scheduled to begin soon.
“This is an exciting day for Birmingham as we mark an important milestone in the stadium’s progress,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “With Protective joining as the naming rights sponsor, we are forging Birmingham’s future together. This allows us to be competitive with other cities in bringing in world-class sporting and entertainment events.”
‘The most famous guy in Birmingham’
Speaking to Yellowhammer News after the announcement event, UAB head football coach Bill Clark explained how important the stadium is to the football program, the university and the community.
“It’s hard to put into words, you know – it’s such a huge step for us,” Clark said.
Again emblematic of that famous Journey song, Clark does not believe that the tremendous success his team had last year was the pinnacle for the program or the people of Birmingham. He sees bigger and better things on the horizon and thanked the people and companies, like Protective Life, that are providing belief – and joy – to so many.
“The cool thing is I see people from Birmingham every day, and they’re so excited,” he added, just before a fan came up and shook the coach’s hand, calling him “the most famous guy in Birmingham.”
Clark continued, “They’re so appreciative. And I’m just happy for them. That we’re going to do this right – it’s all good for my team and our school, and it’s so good for our city. We say, ‘We go as Birmingham goes.'”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn