Atlanta loses Super Bowl–Birmingham biggest loser

Super BowlThe Atlanta Falcons suffered an agonizing defeat to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.

It was a stinging loss that Atlanta fans will remember for years to come.

But as a city, Atlanta should be proud.   Not only did Atlanta have an opportunity to compete in one of the biggest sporting events in the world, but it hosted the Super Bowl in 2000 and will again in 2019.

Compare that to Birmingham, one of the largest cities in America without a major league sports team–who recently hosted the Birmingham Bowl and the O’Reilly Auto Parts World of Wheels.

I love Birmingham, but Birmingham reminds me of a talented son or daughter, that keeps screwing up.

Two Birmingham/Atlanta comments that drive me crazy

When I write about Atlanta I generally get two types of comments that make me nuts!

Comment 1:  “You can’t compare Atlanta to Birmingham—Atlanta is in a different league.”

That is certainly true today, but when I grew up in the ’50s Atlanta and Birmingham were about the same size.  In fact, during my childhood Atlanta was Birmingham’s fiercest competitor.

One of my biggest joys in life was going with my Dad to the Birmingham Baron Baseball games to face our biggest rival–the Atlanta Crackers.

I also cheered for the Barons when they went head to head with the Nashville Vols, the Memphis Chicks, and the New Orleans Pelicans—cities that today boast major league sports.

It absolutely galls me that Birmingham has fallen so far behind.

Comment 2:  “Atlanta has no regional governance and has prospered anyway.”

That’s not exactly true.

In the 1950’s the City of Atlanta annexed over 100 square miles of contiguous territory—which set the tone and gave it the clout to create the explosive growth that followed.

Newspaper article left a knot in my stomach

You may not be aware, but recently Atlanta has been struggling economically versus its peer cities.

When I was in Atlanta earlier this year visiting family, I read an article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) that left me with a knot in my stomach.

The piece was titled, “Leaders now are working well together.”  It told the story how Atlanta/Fulton County political bickering had gotten so bad that many citizens were demanding the county be split apart. But Atlanta politicians are now working together.

Atlanta/Fulton County makes a comeback

The article explained that the political dynamics changed a couple of years ago and suddenly there was a refreshed spirit of collaboration and cooperation.

In the AJC piece, Rusty Paul, Mayor of Sandy Springs, boasted, After 30 years of wandering in the wilderness, there are finally people solving problems. They’ve put aside race, partisanship and geography. It’s been north vs. south, black vs. white, Republican vs. Democrat for 30 years.”

Rep. Chuck Martin, R-Alpharetta, and the head of the Fulton County legislative delegation, bragged that county government is now running faster, better, stronger.”

And Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said “We were often described as dysfunctional. You don’t hear that anymore. All the rancor and challenges in the past are really in the past. We’re a different county, in a lot of ways.”

Please note these comments were from elected officials from three government entities—a Mayor, a County Commissioner, and a State Legislator.

After years of contention Atlanta and Fulton politicians appear to be working toward a common goal.

Birmingham to have a generational opportunity

Jeffrey Bayer, President and CEO of Bayer Properties recently announced an effort to bring collaboration and regionalism to Birmingham and our suburbs.

Theresponse to his piece has been overwhelmingly positive.

It obvious if the much larger and more cumbersome governments of Atlanta can find a way to cooperate with one another, we should be able to find some common ground in little ‘ole’ Birmingham.

Most of us in Birmingham don’t want to be like Atlanta, but we yearn for a more prosperous forward-thinking region.

We must find a way to grow jobs in our seven county metro area. We can’t keep losing our children and grandchildren to more progressive cities that offer greater opportunity.

In the ’60’s Atlanta billed itself as ‘the city too busy to hate’ and concentrated on competing with cities all over the world.

While we in Birmingham divided into too many municipalities and fought amongst ourselves–which we are still doing.

In recent years, Atlanta has struggled, but has found a way to work together.

According to Jeffrey Bayer, we are about to have the same opportunity here.

Let’s not screw it up this time.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com.

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4 thoughts on “Atlanta loses Super Bowl–Birmingham biggest loser”

  1. Enough with the complaining! Self-image is important, and headlines like this week’s do NOT contribute to a healthy self-image. If we want things in Birmingham to be better, however we might define that, we do NOT have to keep beating ourselves up, or keep moping about how whatever other erstwhile competitor has now left us in the dust. I mean really, who cares what’s going on in Atlanta? What we need to do, as you point out way below your negative headline, is work together on our own improvements.

    The reason you saw such positive response to Jeffrey Bayer’s column is that tons of people are eager to help with efforts such as Jeffrey’s. You yourself, a couple of weeks ago, said that young people often come to you looking for ways to get involved in helping make Birmingham better. Unfortunately, you said, you don’t have an easy answer. Why not?

    People are eager to learn about good ideas for improvement, and eager to get involved. Would you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE figure out some suggestions you can write about for those of us who want to help? How can we get involved? What do you want us to do?

    1. Hey Will, I know my headlines make you crazy! But this is not fake news. We have fewer people working in our seven county metro area now than we did ten years ago and our projected population growth is anemic. You and I both love Birmingham, but everyone needs to understand that we have serious shortcomings to overcome so that we are open to change. As you can see from Jeffrey Bayer’s piece, we are about to open up significant conversations about how we can grow our region through cooperation and collaboration. You clearly have a passion for Birmingham and in 2017 you will begin to see a sea change in our prospects for the future. Keep those cards and letters coming!

      1. David, my point is that we already have adequate awareness of the problems in the community. I’m not sure what you think it accomplishes to further publicize and rehash them. You have motivated a lot of people to want to help solve our problems, but your readers are not given much (if any) direction about HOW we can be helpful.

        We don’t want to just “stay tuned” and see what you and Jeffrey might come up with. We want to be actively involved in helping. Isn’t that what you wanted? If so, please tell us what we can do beyond just posting comments or being a guest blogger!

        I will repeat my request: would you PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE figure out some suggestions you can write about for those of us who want to help? How can we get involved? What do you want us to do?

      2. CAN YOU GUYS HURRY UP AN PUSH CONSOLIDATION FOR BIRMINGHAM’S ONE GREAT CITY PLAN PLEASE HURRY UP WERE GAINING JOBS AN FUN STUFF BUT MASS TRANSIT LIGHTRAIL AN MAYBE MORE HIGHRISES AN JOBS CAN COME UP. PLEASE HURRY UP . THANK YOU BIRMINGHAM AKA THE MAGIC CITY AN WITH CONSOLIDATION WITH SUBURBS AN ETC CAN BE CALLED THE BIG MAGIC . HURRY EVERY ONE IS WAITING BIRMINGHAM IS ALABAMAS TRUE SPOTLIGHT URBAN GROWTH .

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