One of the biggest rivalries in the history of college football- the Iron Bowl between the University of Alabama and Auburn University is one that is watched by all of America. The place where this spectacular event was held for most of its years was in Birmingham's Legion Field, built with the iron and steel the great city was known for. Now the Iron Bowl is held every year at either Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium or Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The question on many SEC fans' minds is should the Iron Bowl be moved back to Legion Field instead of switching locations between Tuscaloosa and Auburn? There are many pros and cons to this idea that was brought forth over the years of transferring the Iron Bowl site. There is no doubt that tradition lies on the field of the "Grey Old Lady." But is it worth accommodating such a huge rivalry game once again?
Legion Field has always been a very important part of Birmingham's history as a city. Built by architect D.O. Whilldrin in the 1920's, the stadium's primary use was to hold football games and over the years, Alabama and Auburn played the majority of the Iron Bowl rivalries there. The real problem that most people see is that switching between Tuscaloosa and Auburn every year creates a large fan bias in the stands.
The solution to this is playing the Iron Bowl at a neutral field- Legion Field. It was the most historic place where the game was played before and it will be the site of where the rivalry game will be played in the future. The venue has never been used to its full capacity since the UAB Blazers began using it for their Conference USA home games. One of their highest attendance records was an unfortunate 40,000 fans.
Bringing Alabama and Auburn to Birmingham would increase commerce for the city from fans that come to watch both teams play. It would also bring back the glory days of the now deteriorating Legion Field.
Legion Field is no doubt historic, but college campuses are much nicer than the cracked parking lot of which the complex offers. Crime is also a major issue where the stadium is located. It unfortunately sits in the middle of Birmingham's lower-class neighborhoods which entales the very likelihood that unlawful acts would be committed while fans are watching the game from the bleachers.
Recession has also hit Birmingham relatively hard over the years, which leaves the city with less money to fund the upkeep of large projects like Legion Field. Within the last 15 years, the upper decks of the stadium were torn down due to instability and less attendance than UAB had expected its first years. The fact that the stadium is not kept in very good condition also steers people away from the idea of using this site as a venue for the Iron Bowl once again.
The Debate Continues
The idea of using Legion Field again as a primary spot for the Iron Bowl will remain on the table quite possibly for as long as college football continues. When the recession has eased and crime steadily falls, Legion Field may possibly be considered again as the main site for Alabama and Auburn to play, but until then it will remain a steady debate. The memories and legacy that Legion Field has produced for the Iron Bowl and college football will always be remembered through out the history of the game and will surely not be forgotten.