The new home of the University of Alabama at Birmingham football team and the 2022 World Games is finally complete.
Nestled in the heart of downtown Birmingham, Alabama, Protective Stadium is scheduled to hold its first game on Oct 2. Its first event of many will be UAB’s matchup with Liberty University, which will be the Blazers first home game of 2021.
The stadium’s naming rights were purchased by Protective Life Insurance, which has been headquartered in Birmingham for 114 years. The stadium is officially a partnership between Protective Life, the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center and UAB.
After UAB reinstated its football program in 2017, discussions regarding where the Blazers would play soon followed. The team’s former home, Legion field, was built in 1927 and was undoubtedly unfit to host modern-day sporting events.
The next three years brought financing meetings, bidding wars, site work and eventually the construction of the actual stadium in 2020. Following years of anticipation, , the stadium will be ready for the Blazers’ battle with Liberty this upcoming weekend. The stadium will also host the Blazers’ four remaining home games after this weekend.
UAB senior Christian Chappell is one of many students excited to attend games and cheer on the Blazers in a new environment.
“Everyone is so excited about the new stadium,” Chappell said. “We hear it’s going to be bigger and nicer than ever. When UAB brought the football program back a couple years ago, it just made the university a better place again. They’re pretty good too, so it’s always fun to show out and cheer on our Blazers.”
Though UAB football might be the first event in the new stadium, the city of Birmingham has some other exciting plans for the stadium as well.
Birmingham won the contract to host the 2022 World Games, beating out Lima, Peru and Russia in the final round. The city secured the contract back in 2015, two years before the stadium was first designed. The games are expected to generate an immediate financial impact on the city of Birmingham, with predictions of creating a $240 million economic impact.
“This is more than a stadium – it’s an opportunity for our community to continue thriving,” Rich Bielen, president and chief executive officer of Protective Life, stated on the company’s website.
BJCC Executive Director Tad Snider told Al.com that the stadium plans to host concerts and other non-sporting events this spring. He also noted that the stadium will give Birmingham the “venue to present itself on the world stage.”
With such an enormous impact on both the UAB and Birmingham community, along with the revenue that will be generated and aid in helping so many businesses bounce back from the COVID-19 shutdowns, those involved are hopeful Protective Stadium will have a massive positive and influential footprint on the community.