The 77th annual Magic City Classic kicks off Saturday in Birmingham, but the festivities began early Monday morning.
Dozens of city workers arrived at Legion Field before dawn preparing to deploy to tailgating lots around the stadium. The gates opened to tailgaters at 8 a.m., and the city wanted to be prepared for their arrival. Thousands of football fans will flock to Birmingham this week for the annual matchup between Alabama A&M and Alabama State.
We’re looking for a great game, also it’s a great experience,” Birmingham city councilor William Parker said. “Fans from all over the country attend this game every year, and we want to make sure that everyone has a great fan experience.”
The game kicks off Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Legion Field, but the week leading up to the game features parties, pep rallies and tailgating. There’s also a game day parade that’s provided memories for many fans, including Parker.
“That’s an exciting time. I’ve been going since I was a little kid,” he said.
He also wants to make sure the city capitalizes on the opportunity that the event presents. He says the city starts preparing for each Classic a year in advance to get ready for the influx of fans that will come to Birmingham.
“We want to make sure they visit the restaurants and stay in all the hotels in the city of Birmingham, spend lots of money, but also have a great experience here in the city,” he said.
The event also attracts celebrities like award-winning actor Don Cheadle, who will take part in the parade Saturday at 8 a.m. Fans can see rapper Gucci Mane in concert following the game.
Click here for more information about the Magic City Classic including a schedule of events.