Protective Stadium ends 2021 with a TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl sell out and bright future (PHOTOS)

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl on December 28, 2021 at Protective Stadium. Photo via Miranda Shaffer for Bham Now

Three years ago, on December 13, 2018, community leaders held a groundbreaking on a hill near the Uptown Entertainment District. The purpose? Building the multi-purpose stadium that would eventually become Protective Stadium.

It was a very rare event. For a community that is not known for regional cooperation, everyone was there—Birmingham Mayor Woodfin and the City Council, Jefferson County Commission, the BJCC, UAB and the local business community. Even senators and representatives from the Jefferson County delegation in the Alabama Legislature were present. Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shovels and hard hats.

BJCC
Groundbreaking for the BJCC Multi-Use Stadium. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Despite the show of unity, a longtime community leader turned to me and said,

“Sure this looks good, but I’ll have to see it to believe it.”

A little over three years to the day the dirt was turned on that hill, every seat available at the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl inside Protective Stadium was sold.  

Perhaps in Birmingham we need a cardboard sign like the one in the hit show Ted Lasso that says:

BELIEVE

Believe
Screenshot of the BELIEVE sign from Ted Lasso

The Game

Birmingham Bowl
Auburn University Marching Band at the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl on December 28, 2021 at Protective Stadium. Photo via Miranda Shaffer for Bham Now

For Auburn football fans, the 15th edition of the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl was a home game without the two hour drive down Highway 280. It’s likely 80-90% of the crowd were Auburn supporters. 

Here is how Bham Now’s Miranda Shaffer, a recent Auburn grad herself, described the scene:

“The stadium was crammed full of people. All the Auburn fans were super excited and it felt like a game in Jordan-Hare. Honestly, it was nicer because of all the concession options and the new facility.”

Unfortunately, the Tigers lost to the Houston Cougars 17-13. This bowl season, the big schools are experiencing two trends: players leaving via the Transfer Portal and opting out of bowl games. For example, it would have been nice to see All-American Roger McCreary lockdown the Houston receivers one last time. But you can’t blame him not risking his 1st Round status in the upcoming NFL Draft for a 6-7 Auburn team.

Despite the loss, it was wonderful to see a full stadium. Here are pics from the game.

Let’s hope Auburn can rebound in 2022.

What’s Next for Protective

Legion
Legion Conference at Protective Stadium 2021. Photo by Jacob Blankenship via Bham Now

Protective Stadium’s future looks bright in 2022—in fact, their schedule is jam-packed. Here is what’s on tap:

  • Earlier this month, the Birmingham Legion announced they will play their home games at Protective. That’s a minimum of 17 home games, not counting exhibitions and possible playoff games.
  • In January, news about the USFL playing in Birmingham this Spring is expected to be announced. The new league now has TV contracts with Fox and NBC. The city of Birmingham, Jefferson County and the BJCC have been in talks about playing up to 40+ games in Birmingham, the majority in the new stadium.
  • In July, Protective Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies for The World Games.
  • UAB will play its home games in the Fall at Protective.

And according to several officials, organizers are looking into holding concerts and other events at the new venue.

Protective Stadium is going to be a busy place in 2022.

Have you been to Protective Stadium yet? Tag us on social media @bhamnow to tell us your opinion about the new facility.

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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