BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — As Birmingham gets ready to host the United States Football League, one part of the $3.6 million needed to bring them to the Magic City has come.
On Thursday, the board for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau board made a financial commitment of up to $2 million to support the Fox Sports-owned USFL in Birmingham.
“It was passed in our board meeting. There was some consternation because that’s a big ask from the convention board but nevertheless it was a risk most members choose to take,” said Joe Knight, District 4 member of the Jefferson County Commission.
However, the BJCC is still in need of $1.6 million to cover the cost of the 43-game day staffing, equipment, and field labor during the 2022 spring season.
“I think the remainder of the funding will come primarily from the public sector and maybe a little from the private sector, so it’s a combination of both with most of it being led by the public sector,” said Gene Hallman, president and CEO of the Bruno Event Team.
So far, no other stakeholders from the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County, or the private sector have made a public financial commitment toward the effort.
“They haven’t come to us at the county for an ask. I don’t know what the appetite is. I haven’t really talked about it in-depth to my other commissioners, so I don’t know where they are on it. There are some that have expressed interest, there are some that are skeptical,” Knight said.
There are some incentives that come with the investment. Fox Sports estimates the overall economic impact of the league would be around $21 million for Birmingham.
“They see the impact from the hotel rooms, more than 50,000 room nights. The impact from the restaurants, the part of the economy that got hit hard during the pandemic, will benefit the most from the league coming to our community,” Hallman said.
“Every game will be telecast from Protective Stadium, so each time you do that, you’re putting Birmingham and Protective Stadium and the county on national television,” Knight said.
Knight believes the USFL will be a topic of conversation at next week’s Birmingham City Council meeting. Attempts to reach the council for comment were not successful Friday.