BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – Football season is just days away, and crews at Legion Field are preparing for it by installing a new playing surface.
A crew from FieldTurf put in new turf at the stadium last week and will finish installing it this week. They’ll have it ready in time for the high school football doubleheader taking place at Legion Field this weekend.
The turf is part of a $714,000 project to replace the old turf, which had been in place since 2006. Stanley Robinson, spokesperson for Birmingham’s parks and recreation department, said city leaders have been talking about replacing the turf for a couple years and the new surface will be safer and allow for better performance by those who use it.
“Those are two things that are the utmost concern to us is the performance of the athletes, of course, but also we want to the athletes to be safe when they play,” Robinson said.
Legion Field, also known as “The Old Gray Lady,” is the current home of UAB football, the Magic City Classic and the Birmingham Bowl. The new turf is NCAA and FIFA compliant, so its addition gives the city the opportunity to continue attracting sports events and teams to play in the stadium.
“I think it shows a commitment of the city leaders to bringing sports here to the city,” Robinson said. “It’s a commitment to Legion Field Stadium, and it’s a commitment to the programs who we have agreements to bring to the stadium in order to play.”
But it remains unclear what the new field means for the future of Legion Field as the city prepares to build a new stadium in the Uptown area. Robinson did not speculate on the field’s future, but said it makes the field better now.
“As long as we have commitments to have games here, as long as we have athletes coming in, it’s our responsibility to give them the best playing surface that we can possibly present to them,” he said. “And we’ll do that until the very last day that there’s a Legion Field Stadium.”
The Saturday doubleheader will begin at 4 p.m. with Parker High School taking on Carver High. The second game will start at 7 p.m. with Ramsay playing Minor.