"Football Capital of the South"
"Old Gray Lady"
Aerial view in 2015
|Location||400 Graymont Avenue West|
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
|Owner||City of Birmingham|
|Operator||University of Alabama at Birmingham|
|Surface|| FieldTurf (2006–present)|
Natural grass (1995–2005)
Natural grass (1927–1969)
|Opened||November 19, 1927|
|Renovated||1961, 1965, 2005, 2015|
|Expanded||1934, 1948, 1961, 1965, 1977, 1991|
| Alabama Crimson Tide (NCAA) (1927–2003)|
Auburn Tigers (NCAA) (1926–1991)
UAB Blazers (NCAA) (1991–2014, 2017–2020)
Birmingham Bowl (NCAA) (2006–present)
Birmingham Americans (WFL) (1974)
Birmingham Vulcans (WFL) (1975)
Alabama Vulcans (AFA) (1979)
Birmingham Stallions (USFL) (1983–1985)
Birmingham Fire (WLAF) (1991–1992)
Birmingham Barracudas (CFL) (1995)
Birmingham Thunderbolts (XFL) (2001)
Dixie Bowl (NCAA) (1948–1949)
All-American Bowl (NCAA) (1977–1990)
Birmingham Iron (AAF) (2019)
Legion Field is an outdoor stadium in the southeastern United States in Birmingham, Alabama, primarily designed to be used as a venue for American football, but occasionally used for other large outdoor events. Opened 92 years ago in 1927, it is named in honor of the American Legion, a U.S. organization of military veterans.
A stadium is a place or venue for (mostly) outdoor sports, concerts, or other events and consists of a field or stage either partly or completely surrounded by a tiered structure designed to allow spectators to stand or sit and view the event.
The Southeastern United States is broadly, the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It comprises at least a core of states on the lower East Coast of the United States and eastern Gulf Coast. Expansively, it includes everything south of the Mason–Dixon line, the Ohio River and the 36°30' parallel, and as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana. There is no official U.S. government definition of the region, though various agencies and departments use different definitions.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.
Since the removal of the upper deck in 2004, Legion Field has a seating capacity of approximately 71,594. At its peak, it seated 83,091 for football and had the name "Football Capital of the South" emblazoned from the facade on its upper deck. Legion Field is colloquially called "The Old Gray Lady" and "The Gray Lady on Graymont". The stadium's only current primary tenant is the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers, a member of Conference USA.
Seating capacity is the number of people who can be seated in a specific space, in terms of both the physical space available, and limitations set by law. Seating capacity can be used in the description of anything ranging from an automobile that seats two to a stadium that seats hundreds of thousands of people. The largest sporting venue in the world, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has a permanent seating capacity for more than 235,000 people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000.
The UAB Blazers football team represents the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the sport of American football. The Blazers compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the West Division of Conference USA (CUSA). The team is currently led by head coach Bill Clark, who has held the position since 2014. Home games are held at Legion Field in Birmingham, which has a seating capacity of 71,594.
Conference USA is an intercollegiate athletic conference whose current member institutions are located within the Southern United States. The conference participates in the NCAA's Division I in all sports. C-USA's offices are located in Dallas, Texas.
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 College (now known as Samford University) shut out Birmingham–Southern College 9–0 on November 19, 1927.
The Samford Bulldogs football program is the intercollegiate American football team for Samford University located in the U.S. state of Alabama. The team competes in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and are members of the Southern Conference. Samford's first football team was fielded in 1902. The team plays its home games at the 6,700 seat Seibert Stadium in Homewood, Alabama. The Bulldogs are coached by Chris Hatcher.
The Birmingham–Southern Panthers football team represents Birmingham–Southern College (BSC) in the NCAA Division III, competing as part of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference. BSC plays its home games at the 1,600 seat Panther Stadium, which is located on-campus in Birmingham, Alabama and opened in November 2008. Although only fielding a team since the 2007 season, Birmingham–Southern previously fielded a team from the 1918 season that was later disbanded following the 1939 season.
Over the years, the stadium grew. The expansions didn't follow the designer's initial intent on the stadium becoming a monumental horseshoe-shaped amphitheater.Capacity was increased to 25,000 in 1934 and to 45,000 in 1948, and the bowl was enclosed. In 1961, a 9,000 seat upper deck was added to the east side of the stadium, increasing capacity to 54,600. In 1965, a new press box was built in the stadium and capacity was further increased to 68,821. The first nationally televised night college football game at Legion Field was between Ole Miss and Alabama on October 4, 1969.
The Ole Miss Rebels football program represents the University of Mississippi, also known as "Ole Miss.” The Rebels compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). As of 2019, the team is coached by Matt Luke.
The 1969 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama in the 1969 NCAA University Division football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 75th overall and 36th season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Bear Bryant, in his 12th year, and played their home games at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished season with six wins and five losses and with a loss against Colorado in the Liberty Bowl.
In 1970, the natural grass turf was replaced with Poly-Turf, which was replaced by AstroTurf in 1975. Seating capacity was increased to 75,808 in 1977 and further increased to 83,091 in 1991. The turf was changed to back to a natural Bermuda grass surface in 1995 in order to host soccer events for the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. 570 feet (170 m) above sea level.In 2006, the field went back to an artificial surface with infilled FieldTurf. The field has a conventional north-south alignment at an approximate elevation of
Poly-Turf was a brand of artificial turf in the early 1970s, manufactured by American Biltrite of Wellesley, Massachusetts. It was the first specifically designed for American football, with a patented layered structure which included a "shock pad" between the artificial grass and the asphalt sub-surface. It used polypropylene for its artificial grass blades, rather than the nylon used in AstroTurf and 3M's Tartan Turf.
AstroTurf is an American subsidiary that produces artificial turf for playing surfaces. The original AstroTurf product was a short-pile synthetic turf. Since the early 2000s, AstroTurf has marketed taller pile systems that use infill materials to better replicate natural turf. The prime reason to incorporate AstroTurf on game fields is to avoid the cost of laying and maintaining natural turf and to maximize hours of usage. In 2016, AstroTurf became a subsidiary of German-based SportGroup, a family of sports surfacing companies, which itself is owned by the investment firm Equistone Partners Europe.
Cynodon dactylon, also known as Vilfa stellata, Bermuda grass, Dhoob, dūrvā grass, dubo, dog's tooth grass, Bahama grass, devil's grass, couch grass, Indian doab, arugampul, grama, wiregrass and scutch grass, is a grass that originated in Africa. Although it is not native to Bermuda, it is an abundant invasive species there. It is presumed to have arrived in North America from Bermuda, resulting in its common name. In Bermuda it has been known as crab grass.
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 Alabama withdrew the few home games it still scheduled for Birmingham.The city removed the upper deck in 2005 since the capacity was greater than the need for its tenants. In 2015, renovations took place including general improvements and overall renovations including a new and larger video scoreboard along with a new and improved sound system.
2004 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.
The University of Alabama is a public research university in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Established in 1820, the University of Alabama is the oldest and largest of the public universities in Alabama as well as the flagship of the University of Alabama System. The university offers programs of study in 13 academic divisions leading to bachelor's, master's, Education Specialist, and doctoral degrees. The only publicly supported law school in the state is at UA. Other academic programs unavailable elsewhere in Alabama include doctoral programs in anthropology, communication and information sciences, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work.
Birmingham is a city in the north central region of the U.S. state of Alabama. With an estimated 2018 population of 209,880, it is the most populous city in Alabama. Birmingham is the seat of Jefferson County, Alabama's most populous and fifth largest county. As of 2018, the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 1,151,801, making it the most populous in Alabama and 49th-most populous in the United States. Birmingham serves as an important regional hub and is associated with the Deep South, Piedmont, and Appalachian regions of the nation.
The stadium's future beyond the 2020 college football season is uncertain. The Birmingham–Jefferson Civic Center Authority is planning to start construction of a new stadium on the Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex grounds in the second half of 2019. UAB football is expected to move into the new 55,000-seat venue, to be known as Protective Stadium, in 2021.
Legion Field has served as the home field of the UAB Blazers, members of Conference USA, since 1991. The Blazers temporarily left Legion Field without a primary tenant during the school's two-year hiatus from football.The Blazers returned to Legion Field for the first time in two years on September 2, 2017, setting a new attendance record in a 38-7 victory over Alabama A&M.
Legion Field was well known for hosting the regular season-ending rivalry 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 claiming home-field rights. Tickets were split equally between the two athletic departments to sell, similar to other rivalries like the Red River Shootout between Oklahoma and Texas. In 1989, Auburn decided to move its home games in the series to Jordan–Hare Stadium, therefore the tickets were no longer split equally. Auburn played its last Iron Bowl home game at Legion Field in 1991. In 2000, Alabama followed suit and decided to no longer play its home games against Auburn at Legion Field. Alabama holds a 32–15 advantage over Auburn in games played at Legion Field.
Due to its size and location, both Alabama and Auburn used Legion Field as an alternate home stadium for much of the 20th century. Between its use for the Iron Bowl and as an alternate home stadium for the Crimson Tide and Tigers, Legion Field played host to many of the most important football games in Alabama's history.
Well into the 1980s, Alabama played most of its important games, as well as the Iron Bowl, at Legion Field—to the point that most of Alabama's "home" football history from the 1920s to the 1980s took place in Birmingham.At its height, it seated 20,000 more people than the Tide's on-campus stadium, Bryant–Denny Stadium. Additionally, Birmingham was more accessible than Tuscaloosa for much of the 20th century—even though Tuscaloosa is only 45 minutes west of Birmingham. The Crimson Tide hosted Tennessee in odd-numbered years in Birmingham until 1998, and hosted LSU in even-numbered years from 1964 through 1986, except for 1980. Alabama also played its entire 1987 home schedule at Legion Field due to major renovations at Bryant–Denny Stadium. Indeed, the stadium's strong association with Alabama football led Auburn to lobby to have its home games in the Iron Bowl played in Auburn.
Until 1998, Alabama played at least three games at Legion Field every season. In 1998, Alabama double-decked the east stands at Bryant-Denny, bringing its capacity to a few hundred more seats than that of Legion Field. Due to the disrepair of Legion Field and the added capacity in Tuscaloosa, Alabama moved major conference games on 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 Alabama had a couple of games scheduled at Legion Field in 2005 and 2008, the stadium's poor state of repair (see above) led Alabama to end its contract with the city of Birmingham in 2004 and move all home games to Tuscaloosa.
Auburn also used Legion Field for some home games well into the 1970s due to the larger capacity and the difficulty in traveling to Auburn for most of the 20th century. Auburn played all home games against Tennessee at Legion Field until 1978, except in 1974, when the game was played in Auburn.Auburn also played all home games against Georgia Tech at Legion Field until 1970. Auburn played its last home game at Legion Field in 1991, but took part in the Birmingham Bowl at the same stadium in 2015 as a postseason bowl game.
Legion Field has hosted a number of other college football games. The annual Magic City Classic between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University has been played here since 1946. The Steel City Classic featuring Miles College and Stillman College is also played at Legion Field. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge was played at Legion Field from 2005 to 2007, but moved to Orlando in 2008.
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 used the stadium for their conference championship from 1999 to 2012, but moved to Houston's NRG Stadium in 2013. 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:
Legion Field has served as the home stadium for various professional football teams in Birmingham. It served as home field for the Birmingham Americans (1974) and Birmingham Vulcans (1975) 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 (later 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 2019, it was the home field for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football. There have also been at least two NFL preseason games here, on August 8, 1970 when the New York Jets defeated the Buffalo Bills 33-10, and on August 27, 1988 when the Washington Redskins defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34–17.
In 1968, the Boston Patriots of the American Football League 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.
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.
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, Georgia 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 in 2006, the United States Soccer Federation announced that it will no longer be scheduling men's national team games for playing in Legion Field.
|Date||Time (CDT)||Team #1||Score||Team #2||Round||Attendance|
|July 20, 1996||6:30 p.m.||1–3||Group A||83,183|
|July 21, 1996||4:00 p.m.||1–0||Group C||44,211|
|July 22, 1996||6:30 p.m.||2–0||Group A||45,687|
|July 23, 1996||7:00 p.m.||0–0||Group C||26,111|
|July 24, 1996||6:30 p.m.||1–1||Group A||16,826|
|July 25, 1996||8:00 p.m.||2–1||Group C||28,319|
|Date||Time (CDT)||Team #1||Score||Team #2||Round||Attendance|
|July 21, 1996||12:30 p.m.||3–2||Group B||44.211|
|July 23, 1996||3:30 p.m.||2–0||26.111|
|July 25, 1996||5:30 p.m.||1–1||28.319|
Legion Field has also been used as a concert venue, hosting famous artists of many different genres, including U2, Ruben Studdard, Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones.
In 1979 and 1980, the facility played host to the Drum Corps International World Championships.
If Protective Stadium is not completed in time for the 2021 World Games, that event's opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Legion Field.
Bryant–Denny Stadium is an outdoor stadium in the southeastern United States, on the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. It is the home field of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team of the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
The Iron Bowl is the name given to the Alabama vs Auburn college football rivalry. It is an American college football rivalry game played annually by the football teams of the two largest public universities in the U.S. state of Alabama, the Auburn University Tigers and University of Alabama Crimson Tide, both charter members of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The series is considered one of the most important football rivalries in the annals of American sports.
Jordan–Hare Stadium is the playing venue for the Auburn University Tigers football team located on campus in Auburn, Alabama. The stadium is named for Ralph "Shug" Jordan, who owns the most wins in school history, and Cliff Hare, a member of Auburn's first football team as well as Dean of the Auburn University School of Chemistry and President of the Southern Conference.
Ladd–Peebles Stadium is a stadium located in Mobile, Alabama.
The 2000 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama in the 2000 college football season. The team was led by head coach Mike DuBose, who was coaching his final season at the program. The Crimson Tide, also known informally as the Tide, played their home games at Bryant–Denny Stadium, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Legion Field, in Birmingham, Alabama.
The 1998 UAB Blazers football team represented the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the college football season of 1998, and was the eighth team fielded by the school. The Blazers' head coach was Watson Brown, who entered his fourth season as UAB's head coach. They played five of their home games at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama and one home game at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, and competed as a Division I-A Independent. The Blazers finished their third season at the I-A level with a record of 4–7.
The 2004 UAB Blazers football team represented the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the college football season of 2004, and was the fourteenth team fielded by the school. The Blazers' head coach was Watson Brown, who entered his tenth season as UAB's head coach. They played their home games at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, and competed as a member of Conference USA. The Blazers finished their ninth season at the I-A level, and sixth affiliated with a conference with a record of 7–5. The Blazers also made their first ever bowl appearance at the 2004 Hawaii Bowl where they were defeated 40–59 by Hawaii.
The 1996 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama for the 1996–97 college football season, competing in the Western Division in the Southeastern Conference. Gene Stallings led the Crimson Tide to a 10–3 record in his final year with the program. The team played their home games at Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
The 1984 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama in the 1984 NCAA Division I-A football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 92nd overall and 51st season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Ray Perkins, in his second year, and played their home games at both Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season with a record of five wins and six losses. This marked Alabama's first losing season since the Tide went 2–7–1 in 1957 under Jennings B. Whitworth, and ended Alabama's streak of 25 consecutive bowl appearances.
The 1989 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama in the 1989 NCAA Division I-A football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 97th overall and 56th season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Bill Curry, in his third year, and played their home games at both Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season with a record of ten wins and two losses, as SEC Co-Champions and with a loss in the Sugar Bowl against national championship winner Miami.
The 1994 Alabama Crimson Tide football team represented the University of Alabama for the 1994–95 college football season, competing in the Western Division in the Southeastern Conference. Gene Stallings led the Crimson Tide to a perfect 11–0 regular season, only to see the Crimson Tide lose to the Florida Gators by one point in the SEC Championship Game. Highlights include a win over then unbeaten Auburn, and a dramatic victory over Georgia which is rebroadcast occasionally as part of the ESPN "Classic" series. Alabama beat Ohio State in the 1995 Florida Citrus Bowl to finish their 1994 season with a 12–1 record.
The 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season was the highest level of college football competition in the United States organized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The 2014 UAB Blazers football team represented the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season as a member of the East Division of Conference USA (C-USA). They were led by first year head coach Bill Clark and played their home games at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
Sports in Birmingham, Alabama include several minor league professional teams and college sports. The city of Birmingham and the Birmingham metro area have no major professional sport franchises. The Birmingham area is home to the Birmingham Barons, the AA minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, which plays at Regions Field in the Southside adjacent to Railroad Park. The University of Alabama at Birmingham has a popular basketball program, and Samford University, located in Homewood, has basketball and football teams. The Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the suburb of Hoover is home to the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament which drew more than 108,000 spectators in 2006. There is also an amateur soccer association, known as La Liga. The Birmingham area also hosts the Alabama Alliance basketball and Tragic City Rollers roller derby teams.
The 2017 UAB Blazers football team represented the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in the 2017 NCAA Division I FBS football season as a member of the West Division of Conference USA (C-USA). They were led by second-year head coach Bill Clark and played their home games at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. They finished the season 8–5, 6–2 in C-USA play to finish in a tie for second place in the West Division. They received an invitation to the Bahamas Bowl, where they lost to Ohio.
The Auburn–UAB men's basketball rivalry is a men's college basketball rivalry between the Auburn Tigers and the UAB Blazers. Despite its relative youth and a 15-year hiatus from 2000–2014, the rivalry remains one of the fiercest and most competitive in the state of Alabama.
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|Events and tenants|
| Host of |
2006 – present
| Host of |
SWAC Championship Game
1999 – present
| Host of |
SEC Championship Game
| Host of |
| Host of |
Hall of Fame (Outback) Bowl
continuation after departure of
Hall of Fame (Outback) Bowl
| Host of |
Mile High Stadium
| Host of the |
Drum Corps International
Olympic Stadium (Montreal)