Residents ponder future for Legion Field, surrounding neighborhoods

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) -- After more than 17,000 fans showed up to watch the Birmingham Iron Sunday, residents are taking a look at the potential future for Legion Field and the surrounding neighborhoods.

City leaders have said they hope to continue to bring attractions and events to a stadium that is often empty outside of the college football season.

Recently, Birmingham City Councilor William Parker annonced he was in discussions to try and lure the NFLs Raiders to play a few games at Legion Field. The future of the Raiders' 2019 home remains murky.

While the idea may not come to fruition, neighbors are just glad to again be part of the conversation.

Yolanda Brown-McHoward, newly elected Vice President of the Graymont Neighborhood Association, was thrilled to see thousands of fans in the area during a normally quiet time of year.

"It boosts the morale of the people, just to be out there watching the people parking, watching them fill up the area," said Brown-McHoward.

Longtime neighborhood president Willine Body said the stadium has been key to bringing visitors in.

"The revenue and then the actual attitudes of the people, I think it will give them some hope, and something positive to look forward to," said Body.

At the University of Alabama, Assistant Professor of Economics Amanda Ross has been looking into the idea to lure the NFL team. 

"I think places like Mexico City having one game, London having a couple of games, those are interesting cases to compare to because they don't have professinal football in Mexico City, they don't have professional football in London, Birmingham does not have an NFL team," said Ross.

Ross said Mexico City saw an economic impact estimated to be around $45 million.

Other neighbors are coming up with their own proposals for the area that don't revolve around football. 
Area bicyclist Michael Palmer posted a rendering of what he'd like to see to a Birmingham neighborhood Facebook group; biking and walking paths, a velodrome, and buildings for community use.

Palmer's post has generated a reaction from some neighbors and Body, who wondered what an outdoor attraction might do for the area.

"It will kind of lift their morale to see that we are getting some of the same things that some of the other neigborhoods are getting," said Body.

Tuesday, Councilor Parker told CBS 42 that he was in Washington D.C. working on a deal to bring the Raiders to Birmingham.

The idea came up at this week's city council when members said they were previously unaware of Parker's idea but supported iniatives to bring business to the city.

Stay with CBS 42 for updates.

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