BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The chances of the United States Football League playing its upcoming season in Birmingham this spring are now a step closer to reality.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, BJCC CEO Tad Snider said that the organization, as well as the city of Birmingham, Jefferson County and the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau had “identified and secured” the $3.6 million needed for the opportunity for the city to host the USFL.
“Many stakeholders are working diligently toward realizing this tremendous opportunity for our community,” Snider said in the statement. “It’s involved a signiﬁcant collaboration among Mayor Randall Woodﬁn, the Birmingham City Council, the Jefferson County Commission and Commission President Jimmie Stephens, the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau and the BJCC.”
The BJCC had previously stated that it would take approximately $3.6 million to cover the cost of staffing, equipment, and field labor for the 43-game season. The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau had previously committed $2 million toward bringing the league to the Magic City.
While no formal agreement with the USFL has been made, Snider said the BJCC is now focused on making Protective Stadium available as the primary venue to host the resurrected league’s season.
“This step is an exciting development and we anticipate a formal announcement soon,” Snider said.
The league is scheduled to make its debut this spring with eight teams. Neither the team cities or the date of the season opener have been announced.
The original USFL played between 1982 and 1985 with 18 teams, including the Birmingham Stallions. The league ultimately went bust in 1986 before talks to bring it back this past year.
According to Representative John Rogers, who has been involved in planning for this project from the beginning, the league will have eight teams, including the Stallions, and the USFL would commit to three years starting in the Magic City.
“They promised us the Stallions would be coming back,” Rogers said. “They’re a mainstay. Going back to the old times when we had the Stallions, they were the most popular team in the whole USFL.”
The return of the USFL in the Magic City could have a tremendous impact on the community.
“Birmingham is preparing for the World Games already, so if they’re going to prepare for that then might as well handle an entire league,” Birmingham resident Juan Campos said. “If they can take on both of those and they’re ready for it then I’m totally down for it.”
Rogers said this is a chance to get Birmingham back on the map for sports and beyond.
“Birmingham sometimes we are called ‘Boringham’ because usually after 8 p.m. nothing is open,” Birmingham resident Gary Gal said. “Definitely that’s going to bring more entertainment to Birmingham.”