Will the Magic City Classic return to Legion Field next year?

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Art Meripol

There’s a possibility this could be the last Magic City Classic at Legion Field. The contract between the city of Birmingham and the two universities that compete in the annual football game, Alabama State University and Alabama A&M, expires on December 3. As of now, no one from city hall or the universities has said publicly if the contract will be renewed, but ultimately the decision will come from the schools. 

Here’s why the Classic’s future at Legion Field is in question. 

Legion Field is nearly 100 years old. The city of Birmingham owns the stadium and continues to budget for yearly renovations. The stadium is still operable, but it’s obviously not being used to its fullest capacity. Meanwhile, Protective Stadium opened last year in downtown Birmingham. 

The Magic City Classic, an annual football clash between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University, is set for Saturday.

Perren King, assistant vice president of Bruno Event Team, a Birmingham company that has helped manage the Magic City Classic since 2000, said the plan is to keep it in Birmingham. He says he has heard the idea of the Classic leaving  Legion Field, but Bruno Event Team hasn’t had direct conversations about it. But still, he understands why it’s such a hot topic.

“That’s part of the beauty of this event, that so many people care about it, love it, and it is their classic. The magic is the people,” King said. 

Alabama State alum Felecia Studimire was in the band at ASU and has attended the Classic her entire life. She said she couldn’t imagine the game being anywhere else. 

If they wanted to move the Magic City Classic, I would feel out of place. Because as far as I know, it has been in Birmingham all of my life,” Studimire said. 

The Magic City Classic has been at Legion Field since 1940. Out of all of the events that come to Birmingham, the Classic brings in the most money. There’s an economic impact of up to $25 million. Estimates run as high as 140 thousand attendees both inside and outside the stadium. Plus the Classic is not just for the alums. It’s also for the people who live here. It’s embedded in Birmingham’s culture. 

Crowds gather for the Magic City Classic at Birmingham’s Legion Field in 2011. (Andre Natta via Flickr)

Alandrea Plump and two of her three siblings went to Alabama A&M. The other one went to ASU. Plump also can’t imagine the game being anywhere besides Legion Field. 

“I guess the only other option then is to leave Legion Field and go to Protective and it’s a strong ‘no’ for me. Even though it’s a nice stadium. It’s beautiful actually. But tailgating is a huge part of the Classic,” Plump said. 

Tailgating is a huge part of the Classic. Thousands of fans pull up in their cars and RVs, surrounding Legion Field. So much of what the Classic entails is the fellowship outside the stadium: watching the game on flat screens, with large buffets of food plus non-stop music.

Some people have discussed the game alternating between the Alabama State University and Alabama A&M’s campuses instead. 

But could you still call the game the Magic City Classic?

 

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