BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Two top 15 college basketball teams are set to tip off Saturday right here in Birmingham as Gonzaga takes on Alabama. City leaders say the sold-out game is a slam dunk to continue development and growth for Birmingham and beyond.
It’s all part of the second annual C.M. Newton Classic to celebrate the legacy of the former Alabama basketball coach who paved the way for diversity and inclusion on the men’s team.
“This event is really to celebrate the legacy of C.M. Newton and to honestly push forward the agenda that C.M. had with ultimately integrating college athletics in the southeastern conference,” Knight Eady President Michael Eady said.
The idea for the game is to bring two top-ranked teams to the Magic City at neutral territory and fundraise for nonprofits that drive diversity and inclusion.
“We want to do as much as we can in our backyard right here to continue to promote not just basketball, college athletics and ultimately the mission of the game, but we want to promote Birmingham as a city and a wonderful place to host events like this,” Eady said.
Organizers see it as a dress rehearsal for the NCAA Tournament that will come to Birmingham in March.
“It’s really exciting any time we can get an event in Birmingham that brings people from throughout the state of Alabama,” Birmingham City Councilman Hunter Williams said.
Williams oversees economic development and tourism. He said recently the upgrades made at Legacy Arena are starting to pay back dividends to the city.
“As we continue to change the physical landscape of Birmingham, it allows us to host more and more events in our city and it allows the economy to continue to multiply for the citizens of Birmingham as well as the surrounding communities,” Williams said.
Organizers said the game at Legacy is sold out Saturday. You can watch it on CBS 42 at noon.
Doors open at 10:30 a.m. and you can see the NCAA National Championship Trophy. If you were able to get tickets, Eady said it is important that you arrive early.