Birmingham Council committee approves agreement to keep the Magic City Classic at Legion Field till 2026

Magic City Classic
L to R – Bham City Councilor Carol Clarke, Alabama A&M President Dr. Daniel Wims, Bham Mayor Randall Woodfin, Big Boi, Alabama State University President Dr. Quinton Ross and U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell

Historic Legion Field, which turns 95 years old on November 19th, is on track to host the Magic City Classic for the next four years until 2026.

The Birmingham City Council Budget and Finance committee approved an agreement this week to keep the annual cross-state rivalry game and festivities between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University. A vote on the agreement by the full council will be taken at the November 22nd meeting.

New  Magic City Classic Arrangement

Mayor Randall Woodfin signing the agreement to keep the Magic City Classic at Legion Field until 2022. Photo courtesy of the City of Birmingham

“The Classic is embedded in the culture of Birmingham,” Birmingham City Councilor Crystal Smitherman told Bham Now. “It is more than a game, it is an experience. I am elated that we can continue this 80+ year tradition of being two rival schools to one central and neutral location. It’s important we support our HBCUs, who produce some of our greatest leaders, scientists, technologists, innovators and trendsetters. 

Both universities received $400,000 from the city following the game, this year.Under the new four-year contract, each university will receive $500,000 per year until the contract expires in 2026.

“Everything that’s in the actual agreement are pretty much carbon copies of everything that has already been agreed upon from transportation to in-kind services for police and fire services and EMS and the like. The only change is the financial contribution to both schools,” said Chief of Operations for City of Birmingham, Chaz Mitchell to the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday.

Condition of Legion Field

Legion Field
Mural inside the Legion Field press box. (Pat Byington/Bham Now)

When asked about the condition of Legion Field by Councilor LaTonya Tate, Mitchell pointed out several recent improvement that have been made to the “Old Gray Lady” including:

  • New modern LED lights
  • New turf which is approved for FIFA International soccer games
  • Upgrades to the restrooms

In addition to the major upgrades, Bham Now also reported back in December 2021 on 2022 plans to prepare the stadium for the The World Games. 

Was Protective Stadium ever an option?

Scenes from the Birmingham Stallions v. New Jersey Generals inaugural USFL game at Protective Stadium on April 16, 2022. (Jacob Blankenship/Bham Now)

With the expiration of the Magic City Classic contract between the city and the schools this year, there was speculation about moving the game to either the new Protective Stadium or the A&M and ASU campuses. 

The attendance at this year’s game, which topped 67,000 (and that doesn’t include the thousands of fans tailgating outside Legion Field), seemed to render that discussion moot, since Protective holds about 45,000 and each stadium on the campuses reach capacity at about 25.000 fans.

More Than a Game

Councilor Smitherman noted the need to have both Legion Field and Protective Stadium available.

“It also still shows Legion Field as a useful and premier location for big sporting events. We have to remember we have two stadiums-Protective and Legion Field, who both produce millions of dollars for the City. Go Hornets and go Bulldogs!”

Tell us your fondest memory of the Magic City Classic. Tag us on social media with your favorite story @bhamnow

Pat Byington
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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