Historic Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama holds some of the SEC's greatest memories. Known to college football fans as the "Old Grey Lady," the stadium was the home of both the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and is also currently housing the UAB Blazers. But what really stands out in Legion Field's history is its contribution to the one of college football's biggest rivalry games—the Iron Bowl.
In 1927, veteran architect D.O. Whilldin built Legion Field, just one of a long list of projects constructed by his construction crew in Birmingham. Its capacity was 21,000 fans, which would come to watch many different football teams play in the great iron city. In that same year, Birmingham's shining star was named "Legion Field" in honor of the American Legion, an organization of U.S. Military veterans.
As the years went by, the stadium grew and renovations came and went. But Legion Field's contribution to college football would be approaching within 20 years after the stadium's conception. In 1948, the University of Alabama was going through renovations to Denny Stadium, which left them without a place to hold the annual game between Alabama and Auburn.
Birmingham offered the university Legion Field as a venue for the historic matchup. Over the years, Alabama and Auburn held their rivalry game at the Old Grey Lady until 1988, when both schools decided to switch venues between each team's home field every year.
The Alabama-Auburn rivalry, known as the "Iron Bowl," received its name from the time the games were played for 40 years in Birmingham. The prime industry in the Birmingham is iron and steel work, thus the name "Iron Bowl" was conceived.
Legion Field's history lives forever within one of the biggest rivalry games in college football. Some people feel the stadium is just a long-forgotten giant in a bustling city, but the legacy it holds will remain forever in the hearts of Alabama and Auburn fans.
Currently, Legion Field is the site of the Papajohns.com Bowl and home to the University of Alabama (Birmingham) Blazers from Conference USA. Although the stadium is still used (but not to its full capacity), nothing will ever match up to the responsibility Legion Field had to the many fans of the SEC. It is a shame that nothing of this sort will be seen again from the Old Grey Lady.