BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — For the first time, the Protective Stadium sign lit up Uptown Birmingham. Project partners flipped the switch, Tuesday night, during an unveiling event. Those who showed up told us they were excited about what they believe the new stadium will bring, and what it means for the city.

“It’s the culmination of hard work, right?” Director of the Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity for the City of Birmingham Cornell Wesley said.

It is how many described the occasion, where project partners spoke about working together.

“This process has shown us what was possible when we come together for the common goal of strengthening our communities,” Protective Life CEO Richard Bielen said.

It was a theme throughout the evening, from the partnership leaders say made it all possible, to the literal gathering at the nearly completed Protetive Stadium.

“After, gosh, a year and a half of really everybody being in this pandemic in a really challenging time for our city and our country and our world, it’s exciting to see people back out again and coming back together,” World Games CEO Nick Sellers said.

State and city leaders agree the stadium will also serve as a catalyst for economic growth.

“When you visit other cities, you realize from the venue standpoint these are the necessary investments you make to get the return you need not only for visitors in tourism but to also support your citizens within your city,” explained Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Governor Kay Ivey says the state’s future is brighter with Protective Stadium.

“By attracting increased opportunities from entertainment and sporting events, like UAB Football the World Games,” Governor Ivey explained.

City leader say this is a huge anchor, but it is not where it ends.

“For the city to continue to grow we have to believe in economic development and invest in economic development,” said Mayor Woodfin.

Protective Stadium’s real debut is UAB Football’s home opener Saturday, October 2.

You can watch the full sign lighting event in the video player above.