Excitement is building for the new stadium—Meet Mark Ingram: the man behind UAB athletics

Mark Ingram at Protective Stadium during construction
Mark Ingram helped bring Protective Stadium to life. Photo via Ted Feeley

For the past six years, Mark Ingram has been UAB’s Athletic Director responsible for reinstating programs, raising funds for UAB athletics and renovating facilities. Ahead of UAB Football’s opening home game at Protective Stadium, we spoke to the man who has been a major part of bringing this special day to Birmingham.

Meet Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram in UAB jacket outside
Mark Ingram has made Birmingham home. Photo via UAB Athletics

Originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Mark Ingram moved to Lynchburg, Virginia as a child where he played football. After graduating high school, Ingram played for the University of Tennessee and later worked for them. Before becoming a Blazer, Ingram also worked at the University of Missouri, University of Georgia and Temple University in Philadelphia.

Joining UAB

Mark Ingram headshot
The man who pushed UAB Athletics forward. Photo via UAB Athletics

In December of 2014, UAB’s director of athletics resigned one day before the elimination of UAB’s football program (as well as the bowling and rifle programs). Six months later, Ingram took over the position and the next month, UAB football, bowling and rifle were reinstated.

An excited community

uab sports fans
The community rallies behind UAB sports. Photo via Bham Now

It’s no secret the UAB community and city of Birmingham have been waiting for this day to come (UAB football’s former home was Legion Field— an almost century-old field).  However, Ingram says this is bigger than a stadium.

“From an athletic standpoint, this says we intend to be great. It’s a great demonstration of our desire to be excellent.  It really might be the nicest college football stadium in the country.”

Mark Ingram, UAB Athletic Director

The journey of UAB football has been a rough one but the fans and community never gave up.

“The stadium is really for our fans. They deserve it. They’ve been with us high and low, thick and thin and absolutely deserve to have something that’s special,”

Mark Ingram, UAB Athletic Director

In addition to football, the BJCC and City of Birmingham plan to have annual events at Protective Stadium, giving our city a great economic boost.

University-wide upgrades

UAB campus
23 renovations have been done at UAB under Mark Ingram. Photo via Bham Now

Protective Stadium is not the first investment UAB has made in their football team since the comeback. In 2017, $22.5 million dollars went to a covered practice facility for players.

“This showed our team that this is a place where we’re serious about being competitive and winning championships. It showed recruits this is a place where they can get better and be the best versions of themselves.”

Mark Ingram, UAB Athletic Director

Here, players have the tools and resources to give them the opportunities to play at the NFL level.  

While everyone knows about Protective Stadium, there have been 22 other builds and renovations during Ingram’s tenure. Some highlights include:

  • Soccer stadium expansion
  • New softball stadium
  • Basketball weight room renovation
  • New Beach volleyball facility
  • New Olympic Track & Field
  • And many more

What’s the big picture around these facility renovations and builds? Showing teams you care and they matter.

“If you renovate the women’s basketball locker room, you’re telling them without saying the words, ‘your hard work matters, you’re important, we value what you do, we want you to be successful.’ The university is providing a world-class experience academically to all the students and we want to be able to provide a world-class experience to our student-athletes.”

Mark Ingram, UAB Athletics Director

The big game

protective stadium
Kick-off is this Saturday at 6 PM. Photo via Tira Davis for Bham Now

This Saturday, expect cheers, tears and a lot of green and gold. Thousands are expected to pile into the stadium for the 6 PM kick-off so get there early— and we mean EARLY. With game day in a new location, new infrastructure throughout the city and streets closed for the game, expect quite a bit of traffic throughout the evening. Arrive early, hang out, tailgate and get ready for a great night.

“It’s going to be a beautiful weather day— it’d be okay to go a little sooner than you need to.”

Mark Ingram, UAB Athletics Director

Game Day Prep

Birmingham, UAB, UAB football, homecoming
We’re ready to watch the guys break in the new stadium! Photo via @uab_fb

Tag us in your game day posts @BhamNow!

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Katiana Banks

Marvel-loving, cardio-hating senior at UAB. ✨

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