An upcoming Birmingham, AL stadium was in the spotlight Thursday, when officials celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for the downtown facility.
The new Birmingham stadium will be an open-air facility that is designed to host multiple types of events, including college football for the University of Alabama Birmingham. It will be built with a capacity of 45,000, with the ability to expand to 55,000 for major events, and comes in at a cost estimate of $174 million.
Planning for the facility has been underway for some time, and Thursday’s ceremonial groundbreaking marked a major milestone for the project. While construction work will not begin until the spring or early summer of 2019, the festivities seemed to boost anticipation for the stadium ahead of its 2021 opening. More from AL.com:
The ceremonial groundbreaking took place at the future site of the 55,000-seat stadium at the Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex. The massive structure will be built on what is now four city blocks. The site is bordered by Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard to the south, 12th Avenue North to the north, 22nd Street to the west and 24th Street to the east.
“This stadium will be the home stadium for the UAB Blazers but on 350 some odd other days it’s going to be a great attribute for the city of Birmingham,” University of Alabama at Birmingham President Ray Watts said. “It’s going to be the finest facility of its kind in the state of Alabama, and with the renovation of the (Legacy) Arena and the entire complex I too believe this is probably the most important economic development project in the city of Birmingham today.”
Construction isn’t actually set to start until spring or early summer 2019. It is expected to be complete in mid-2021 just in time for The World Games 2021 and the UAB football season.
New renderings of the stadium from Populous, a Kansas City, Mo. design and architecture firm were also unveiled on Thursday.
The stadium is a major component in a larger improvement plan for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, with a renovation to Legacy Arena also factoring into the overall project. Legacy Arena’s overhaul is currently slated to be completed in 2022, and it will be home to a New Orleans Pelicans’ franchise in the NBA Gatorade League starting in the 2022-23 season.
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