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.
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, Legion Field changed the field to an artificial turf, and changed it again in 1975 to Astroturf. The field changed back to grass in 1995 in preparation for Olympic soccer.
In 2004 a structural evaluation determined that the 9,000 seat upper deck, installed in 1961, 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.
In 2006, the City of Birmingham decided to change the playing surface at Legion Field to an artificial Field Turf in the hopes of hosting more high school football games in the stadium.
Prior to 1999, the University of Alabama played at least three home football games there every season, usually the big games, especially the Univ. of Tennessee game, because the capacity of Legion Field had been greater than that of Bryant-Denny Stadium, and because Legion Field was easier for the Tennessee fans to travel to. By the 1990s, Legion Field hosted either the Univ. of Tennessee game or the Auburn Tigers game, and two minor football games every year.
Among the other football teams that the Univ. of Alabama team has faced in Legion Field over the years include the University of Southern California, Louisiana State University, University of Mississippi, University of Georgia, Florida State University, University of Houston, and University of Kentucky
After the addition of the east upper deck to Bryant-Denny Stadium in 1998, the capacity of Bryant-Denny exceeded that of Legion Field, and Alabama began playing all the big games on campus, including the Univ. of Tennessee game in 1999 and the Auburn University game in 2000. From 1999–2001, Alabama only played two minor home games at Legion Field, and played only the home opener there in 2002 and 2003. The last Alabama game at Legion Field was a 40-17 victory over the University of South Florida on August 30, 2003. Due to the disrepair of the stadium, The Univ. of Alabama and the City of Birmingham ended their contract in 2004, moving all the games Alabama scheduled at Legion Field for 2004 to Tuscaloosa.
Auburn University also used Legion Field less extensively, primarily due to size and the difficulty of transportation to Auburn for the first half of the 20th century, but for decades, Legion Field was the regular home of the Univ. of Tennessee-Auburn Univerity game every other year. Over time, Auburn moved all of its home games to Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama, including the Iron Bowl.
In terms of postseason play, the Southwestern 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:
When the City of Birmingham changed back to an artificial turf field, the U.S. Soccer association announced that it will no longer be scheduling men's national team games for playing in Legion Field.
In 1979 and 1980, the facility played host to the Drum Corps International World Championships.
|1||Southern Miss (2003)||44,669|
|2||Mississippi State (2006)||36,104|
|5||Virginia Tech (1998)||31,897|
|6||Southern Miss (2005)||31,363|
Bailey Field to get synthetic "field turf": A local board gives the OK to turn switch from regular grass to a synthetic surface.
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