Legion Field
Legion Field is a large stadium in Birmingham, Alabama primarily designed to be used as a venue for American football, but is occasionally used for other large outdoor events. The stadium is named in honor of the American Legion, a U.S. organization of military veterans. At its peak it seated 83,091 people for football. Today, after the removal of the upper deck, Legion Field seats approximately 71,594 spectators. Legion Field currently serves as the home field of the UAB Blazers, who compete in Conference USA.

Stadium history
Construction of a 21,000 seat stadium began in 1926 at the cost of $439,000. It was completed in 1927 and named Legion Field in honor of the American Legion. In the stadium's first event, 16,800 fans watched Howard College shut out Birmingham-Southern College 9-0 on November 19, 1927. Over the years, the stadium grew. The bowl was enclosed. In 1961, a 9,000 seat upper deck was added to the stadium. In 1965, a new press box was built in the stadium. In 1969, lights were added to the stadium to allow for televised night games. In 1970, the natural grass turf was replaced with Poly-Turf, which was replaced by Astroturf in 1975. The turf was changed to Bermuda grass in 1995 in order to host soccer events for the Summer Olympics taking place in Atlanta. In 2004 a structural evaluation determined that the 9,000 seat upper deck would need major remediation to meet modern building codes. With little prospect of adequate repairs on the way, the University of Alabama withdrew the few home games it still scheduled for Birmingham. The city removed the upper deck in 2005 since the capacity was greater than the need for its tenants.

Controversy
Alabama Industrial Development officials erected a 27-foot (8.2 m) emblem of the Mercedes-Benz Company atop the stadium's main scoreboard. This was completed in 1993 when the German car manufacturer announced that they would open a vehicle production plant in Vance, Alabama. Although the announcement was lauded by state officials as one of the most significant economic benefits for the state at the time, the emblem was not welcomed by all citizens. Since the stadium was dedicated to American veterans, some surviving World War II veterans voiced concerns that the emblem disgraced the American soldiers that sacrificed their lives in the war against Nazi Germany, since Mercedes aided in the development of war machinery for the Germans during the war. As part of Olympic regulations banning advertising, the Mercedes-Benz emblem was removed from the stadium prior to the city hosting events leading up to the 1996 Olympic Games, and was not replaced afterward.

Football
Legion Field currently serves as the home stadium for the UAB Blazers. However, the most famous use of Legion Field is for it's use as the host of the Iron Bowl. Additionally, both the University of Alabama and Auburn University have used this stadium for games across their history, primarily due to its size and location.

Iron Bowl
Legion Field is best-known for hosting the season-ending game between Alabama and Auburn each year from 1948 to 1988. Because of Birmingham's major industry of iron and steel manufacturing, the game became known as the " Iron Bowl." From the series' resumption in 1948 to 1987,each team rotated which claimed home-field. Tickets were divided 50/50 like the Florida/ Georgia game & the Texas/ Oklahoma game until 1989, when Auburn moved their home games in the series to Jordan-Hare Stadium, although they did play one last home game at Legion Field in 1991. Alabama followed suit in 2000. Alabama holds a 32-15 advantage over their in-state rival in games played at Legion Field.

Other Alabama and Auburn football games
Due to its size and location, both Alabama and Auburn have used this stadium for other football games. Prior to 1999, the University of Alabama played at least three home football games there every season, including the entire 1987 home schedule, plus the Iron Bowl, due to construction at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. The capacity of Legion Field was larger than that of Bryant-Denny and Birmingham was more accessible than Tuscaloosa for much of the 20th century. After the addition of the east upper deck to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 1998, the capacity of Bryant-Denny exceeded that of Legion Field. Due to the disrepair of Legion Field and the added capacity in Tuscaloosa, Alabama moved major conference games to campus. In the ensuing years, Alabama decreased the number of games scheduled in Birmingham. The last home game for Alabama at Legion Field was against the University of South Florida on August 30, 2003. Though they had a couple of games scheduled at Legion Field in 2005 and 2008, the disrepair to the stadium and the structural issues to the upper deck led Alabama to end their contract with the city of Birmingham in 2004 and move all home games to Tuscaloosa. Auburn also used Legion Field for some home games due to the size and the difficulty for teams to travel to Auburn for much of the 20th century. Auburn played their home game against Tennessee at Legion Field until 1972, and against Georgia Tech until 1970.

Other college football games
Legion Field has hosted a number of other college football games. The annual Magic City Classic between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University has been played here since 1946. The Steel City Classic featuring Miles College and Stillman College are played at Legion Field. The MEAC/SWAC Challenge was played at Legion Field, moved to Orlando for years 2008 through 2010. Birmingham-Southern College played against Mississippi College's junior varsity team in Legion Field on September 6, 2007 in their first football game since 1939. In terms of postseason play, the Southwestern Athletic Conference uses the stadium for their conference championship. The Southeastern Conference played their first two conference title games here, in 1992 and 1993. This stadium has also hosted four different bowl games in its history:
  • Dixie Bowl (1947”“48)
  • Hall of Fame Bowl (1977”“1985) This game moved to Tampa, Florida and was renamed the Outback Bowl in 1986.
  • All-American Bowl (1986”“1990)
  • BBVA Compass Bowl (2006”“current)


Professional football
Legion Field has served as the home stadium for various professional football teams in Birmingham. It served as home field for the Birmingham Americans (1974) and Birmingham Vulcans (1975) of the World Football League (1974”“1975), the Alabama Vulcans of the American Football Association (1979), the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League (1983”“1985), and the Birmingham Fire of the World League of American Football (now NFL Europe) in 1991”“92. In 1995, it was the home field of the Birmingham Barracudas for their single season of play as part of the short-lived expansion of the Canadian Football League into the United States. In 2001, it was the home field for the single season of the Birmingham Thunderbolts of the XFL. In 1968, the Boston Patriots played one "home" game against the New York Jets at Legion Field. The Jets, featuring former Alabama quarterback Joe Namath, won the game 47-31.

High school football
Legion Field has hosted various high school football games throughout its history. From 1996 until 2008, Legion Field was used by the Alabama High School Athletic Association for the Super Six high school football championships.

Soccer
Recently, Legion Field had been used successfully as a site for major soccer events, including preliminary matchups in the 1996 Summer Olympics ”“ the opening match between the United States and Argentina drew 83,810 spectators, the stadium's all-time record for any event. All of the concluding-round soccer games moved to Athens, Georgia after preliminary games had been played in various other cities. Legion Field had also hosted exhibition games by the U.S. men's and women's national soccer teams, and in 2005 it hosted a World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Guatemala. When the City of Birmingham changed back to an artificial turf field, the United States Soccer Federation announced that it will no longer be scheduling men's national team games for playing in Legion Field.

Concerts and other events
Legion Field has also been used as a concert venue, hosting famous artists of many different genres. In 1979 & 1980, the facility played host to the Drum Corps International World Championships.

UAB Attendance Records Opponent Attendance 1 Southern Miss (2003) 44,669 2 Mississippi State (2006) 36,104 3 TCU (2004) 33,280 4 Troy (2006) 32,818 5 Virginia Tech (1998) 31,897 6 Southern Miss (2005) 31,363 7 Kansas (1998) 30,543 8 Houston (1999) 28,573 9 Memphis (2004) 27,192 10 Alabama State (2008) 26,414