The entire city of Birmingham is gearing up for the return of UAB football. Government leaders, community members, restaurants, and hotels are partnering to ensure that thousands of UAB fans have the best game day experience possible. With all of the excitement surrounding the return of the program, the school made a big announcement yesterday – the program has surpassed its goal of 10,000 season ticket sales.
Mark Ingram, athletics director at UAB, told the Alabama News Center that the program has sold 10,134 season ticket packages as of Wednesday morning. “We’re going to have more people at our games than we’ve ever had before,” he said. “That’s been the hard work of a lot of people coming together and we don’t intend to stop. We encourage the city of Birmingham to continue getting behind this team and supporting us.”
In order to continue to draw those fans in throughout the season, UAB has hired the Bruno Event Team to manage its home game events. Gene Hallman, CEO of the Bruno Event Team, expressed the importance of coming out of the gate strong on the first game day.
“We’ve got to be dead-solid perfect – and I mean perfect – on that first day because we have so many first-timers coming out to Legion Field to experience UAB football. We want them to return for games two through six and subsequent seasons. We have got to get it right collectively on the first day.”
In order to ensure that the city is prepared to host Blazer fans from all over, the Bruno Event Team is working with the city of Birmingham, the Birmingham Police Department, and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office. Together, these departments will monitor traffic issues and push re-routing information through dedicated social media channels.
In addition to the parking spaces around Legion Field, UAB will also shuttle fans to the stadium from parking lots on UAB’s campus. The University has also announced other game-day enhancements including, improved concessions with brand new vendors, a bigger Blazer Village and kids’ zone, student greeters, and a new student tailgating area. Hallman added that fans can expect “a whole litany of other things, including a couple of big announcements that we’re finalizing the details on relative to the game-day experience.”
With the return of UAB football being publicized on a national level, Birmingham Mayor William Bell sees an exciting opportunity for the city. He estimates that the return of the program will have a $50 million economic impact on the city.
“When people come out for the football experience, they want the total package and we’re working with Bruno Event Team to give them the total package. All of the restaurants and businesses, they’re geared up. They’re going to be green and gold and dragon country.”
The future is already looking bright for UAB football. There have already been talks of replacing the aging Legion Field – often called the “Old Gray Lady on Graymont” – with a new stadium located near the BJCC. A change of location could be superb addition to UAB’s already fresh start. Mayor William Bell confirmed the speculation surrounding a new stadium, adding the the future of the program continues to look bright.
“We’re only going to have a couple of more seasons for the Old Gray Lady and then we’re going to put her out to pasture. We’re working to make sure that this is just the beginning of great excitement for the next decade and decades to come for UAB Blazer football. We know we’ve got to put the resources in place, we’ve got to put the facilities in place and we’re working on that as we speak. Just hold on. It’s only going to get better from here.”
UAB will play its first game at home against Alabama A&M on September 2.