After a one-year hiatus, the Florida Gators are back in a January bowl game. Sure it’s the Birmingham Bowl against Eastern Carolina, but a bowl is a bowl and a roll is a roll, and if we don’t make no bowls, we don’t eat no rolls – I made that up myself (not really).
Anywho, we figured that, since Florida hasn’t played at Legion Field since 1993, it might be nice to let people know what they’re getting into. One of our Florida guys, Casey, suggested we post a smattering of the online reviews and make this a one-stop shop. Since Casey generally has good ideas, we decided to oblige.
If you’re one of the fans choosing to make the trek and enjoy the final games of Dante Fowler, Matt Jones, and this year’s senior class, here’s what to expect from Legion Field in Birmingham.
Here’s what Sean MacDonald of Stadium Journey had to say about his visit.
Some stadiums in college football have a mystique. Some stadiums are home to great moments, classic games, and many great players. Legion Field is one of these stadiums, or at least it was.
Opened in 1927, Legion Field was once the greatest football venue in the South. It hosted the Iron Bowl from 1948-1988, and both Alabama and Auburn played many other games here over the years, but as the facility deteriorated and their on-campus stadiums improved, they both stopped using it as an alternative.
What was once a great place for football has become an old, rusty, lifeless facility, all due to the city of Birmingham’s inability to take care of it.
The stadium deteriorated so much that the upper deck had to be torn down due being unsafe, reducing capacity to 71,594.
And now for the Yelp reviews.
Matt C. in Atlanta gave it one star and wrote:
this place is a dump, and so is the entire surrounding area. it looked like the remnants of a city after a wwII battle as we were searching for parking, and certainly not someplace you’d want to be walking around in after dark. luckily i was there for an early afternoon bowl game.
Louay B. in Chicago gave his experience three stars:
The Gray lady. An old stadium with a ton of history in it. Almost every famous college coach has either played or coached in this stadium (Bear Bryant, Holtz, Spurrier, Paterno, Dye, etc..). Outside the south entrance, you will find the historic plaque of Bear Bryant and some other interesting statues. The stadium itself has issues, it’s old. The bathrooms are the same as when they built the place and I don’t think they have been cleaned since. Concrete is falling, metal is rusting, and I think everything has about 32 coats of paint.
The area around it is not your typical stadium neighborhood. It’s actually in a scary part of town. No restaurants, bars, or grocery stores, just your run of the mile corner store with bars over everything.
Kevin C. from Franklin, Indiana offered up the following with his one-star review:
Dump of a stadium now… tons of history for successful college football and failed teams (U.A.B., every sub-pro expansion league).
And just in case you’re not a Yelper, but rather one of those hip Google Reviewers, here are a couple of snapshots of commenters weighing in on the venue (which holds a composite rating of 3.1 out of 5).
In sum: come for the game and leave before dark. Best for football and WWII history buffs, as well as fans of rust and heavy coats of paint. Not ideal for architectural modernists or people who like amenities.
And if you’re on the fence as whether to visit Birmingham or watch the basketball team face defending champion UConn in the O’Dome on that same day, this final punctuation from Stadium Journey may help ease your decision.
Legion Field is clearly nearing its end of life and is no longer fully maintained, making it both fascinating and depressing to watch a game here. I rarely advise that you avoid a stadium, but this is one that a stadium traveler need not add to the bucket list when you visit Alabama.