BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Live sporting events kicked off this weekend, drawing thousands of people to Central Alabama.
On Sunday, roughly 25,000 fans made their way out to the Barber Motorsports Park for the Honda Indy Grand Prix.
“The atmosphere out here is incredible so who wouldn’t love it here,” said Enrique Martinez, a spectator of the Grand Prix.
Martinez has attended the Indy Grand Prix every year for the past three years.
“Incredible to be back! You know we missed the last year because of COVID, you know it’s unfortunate but they made the right call. Everyone did, it’s a different world but we’re back and they are doing such a great job keeping everyone safe,” he said.
“Masks are mandatory, social distancing, we eliminated all the bleachers and temporary hospitality facilities so people weren’t in tight confines,” CEO of ZOOM Motorsports and Bruno Hospitality Gene Hallman said.
Hallman said that he has noticed more people are beginning to feel comfortable going to public events again.
“Getting back out among others and feeling safe, just watching a live sporting event, many for the first time since the shutdown. So many firsts are occurring this weekend and I definitely think it’s getting people’s attitudes and mindsets in the right direction that the end is closer than it was, you know, this time last year,” Hallman said.
With thousands of visitors in the Birmingham area for live sports events, the local economy is getting a boost.
“We anticipate, with the Indy race car, with the Magic City Classic as well as the A-Day game in Tuscaloosa, a 50 million dollar economic impact of all the sporting events in the city of Birmingham. This just demonstrates that the city of Birmingham is open for business, but we’re are going to do it responsibly,” Birmingham City Council President William Parker said.
Parker also added that there are a lot of events throughout the Birmingham area coming soon for sports and music festivals that will have a great impact on hotels, restaurants, and bars that may have been impacted during the pandemic.