New football stadium not being built for common man

Terance Perine
Terance Perine

ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a more prosperous Birmingham.

Today’s guest blogger is  Terance Perine.  If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

The new Protective BJCC-UAB Stadium is not being built for the common man or woman.

Everyone—including me–is excited about our new football stadium.

But we’re about to get it wrong—really wrong—and we need to act before it’s too late.

No one seems to have asked for changes in design—maybe no one’s paying attention or they don’t know the details.

Our new stadium represents a new Birmingham—and we shouldn’t settle for a poor design that doesn’t serve the average citizen.

Protective Stadium--Conceptual renderings of Protective Stadium. (courtesy of Populous) Note few number of good home side seats on right side
Conceptual renderings of Protective Stadium. (courtesy of Populous) Note few number of good home seats on right side

Only 2,500 good seats on home side

The problem is that the press box and the VIP/Corporate Suites are down low and this doesn’t leave room for adequate home side seating.

There are only 31 rows of seats on the home side. The visitors’ side has 60 rows of seats and all the visitors who sit in the visitors’ side seats will be roasting and staring into the sun.

There are lots of seats in the corners and end zones—but no one wants to sit there.

If I define good seating on the home side as those seats between the 20 yard lines and on rows 6 through 31—there will be only be 2,500 good seats.

We’ll be building a stadium with a capacity of 45,000 and yet there will be only 2,500 good seats on the home side.

This is worrisome since UAB Football has sold 10,000 season tickets  and many loyal UAB fans won’t have good seating options.

Vestavia Hills High School has more good home side seats.

The corporations and elite will have the best views—while most of the rest of us will be stuck in the corners, end zones, or in the sun on the visitor’s side.

Fans at the Magic City Classic won’t be happy.

The Birmingham Bowl could be negatively affected.

And certainly no potential pro-team would welcome the proposed layout.

Stadium not visible from I-59/20

Also, since the press box is being built so low, the stadium won’t be viewable from I-59/20.

Being highly visible from I-59/20, this stadium could become a symbol of our City much the same as Vulcan. Why hide our new stadium?

Birmingham’s going to carry the burden of having the strangest football stadium ever built.

When I take my family, where am I going to sit?

Am I going to be forced to sit in the end zone, the corners, or on the visitors’ side in the sun? I’ll feel like I’m being sent to the back of the bus–and I won’t be alone.

This is a stadium problem, but it is also a social justice problem. Birmingham has come too far to be set back.

Simple solution

The solution is simple–add more home side seats and push the press box up higher.  That’s how most stadiums are built.

We need community involvement and media coverage.

When citizens stick together, the leaders are forced to listen. Please report your concerns to the media and share on social media.

We in Birmingham can do better than this.

For more details, please check out our website:  www.BadStadiumDesign.com

Facebook: @BadStadiumDesign

Twitter: @BadStadium

Terance Perine played Football at Auburn and at Jacksonville State. His father, James Perine, was a coach for 32 years at Vigor High School in Mobile. His oldest son, Lamical Perine, is on the Maxwell Award Watch list this year and plays football for the University of Florida. And his youngest 5 year old son is President Austin, world renowned homeless activist and super hero that was featured on CBS Nightly News.

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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 for free about a better Birmingham. dsher@amsher.com

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38 thoughts on “New football stadium not being built for common man”

  1. I’m not sure why you called this a Social Justice problem, perhaps you can elaborate on what you mean. But also, it doesn’t appear to have any less “good seats” percentage wise as any other decent stadium. Not to mention, it’s not like UAB football will ever fill this thing up. I have no idea of their numbers but I’m just betting it’s no where near 45k attendees.

    So for most events, there really are no “good seats”. I’m sure you could easily be one of those 2500 good seaters without having to pay much.

    1. This isn’t just a UAB fotball fan issue…its for every event for decades to come that we, the citizens of Jefferson County will be stuck with.

      If you don’t care about going there to any event ever, maybe it should matter to you because a few individuals on the BJCC board are lying to public.

    2. This isn’t just a UAB football fan issue…its for every event for decades to come that we, the citizens of Jefferson County will be stuck with.

      If you don’t care about going there to any event ever, maybe it should matter to you because a few individuals on the BJCC board are lying to public.

    3. Rich Gets richer and the poor gets resentful. Social Justice. The stadium could be a site for NFL XFL and many more. This is a bigger issue than just UAB sir.

      1. It’s still not a social injustice. You make the article sound racist. I have a daughter and son in law whom are UAB alum and I want the best for UAB, but this should be presented as a need for the city and outlying cities not as a “social injustice” and that Birmingham is being “set back”!! Perhaps the stadium is all that can be afforded at this time. Many stadiums are built small and enlarged as the need is discovered. But this is not a “social injustice”!!

        1. Mam, with all due respect, I dont like discussing race at all. If I wanted to use race, I would have mentioned RACE. I apologize if your understanding of what “Social Justice” really means is limited. If you feel that social justice is about Race when you hear the term, I sympathize for you. This has NOTHING to do with race and EVERYTHING to do with supporting the Financially Marginalized. If you don’t know what that means I’d be happy to elaborate more.
          Warm Regards

  2. Terance Perine has given this some thought. I’ve heard similar expressions from BHM boosters.
    I am not sure what the answer is. But, based on UAB’s last year at Legion Field, where average attendance was 24,000 for 6 games, I think we can expect to get to 45,000. Plus other events will have large capacity crowds.
    Our experts need to get this right.

  3. I hope the city forces the hand of the BJCC’s selfish tactics.

    They have already erased their private tunnel to their offices across the street after they got called on it.

    This is just plain wrong. Its an ugly design-putting an inordinate amount of seats in the end zones and corners. Those are no the seats most people desire and they are the cheap section for a reason in other stadiums. The press box side is smaller than some high school stadiums.

    Who wants to sit in corners? And….Keep in mind, the other side of the stadium (non-press bx side) is where you will be baking in that afternoon sun.

    But…this isn’t just a UAB problem…it’s affects fans of all events for decades to come….concerts…Magic City Classic…High school playoffs, etc, etc, etc. Please re-post this on social media.

    Even if you don’t care about going to event there…aren’t you tired of these self-serving people in charge? Personally gaining from their office?

  4. Just looking at the image of the new stadium it is obvious to see that Mr Perine is correct. As much as this post is coming from a viewpoint of lack of seating for average fans, his points should be cause for concern from a marketing and revenue perspective as well. I’m sure there may have been financial, possible zoning and financial reasons for the choices made in this design, but the program will suffer in possible revenue loss as the program goes forward from this design as well. I know ticketing and event sales very well, work along the biggest promoters in the world and the points this man makes are not only relevant from a consumer perspective, but obvious in the live event industry. The school should take notice while they still can and maybe even consider hiring and obviously proud fan of this school and community to give them a logical perspective from an outsiders point of view. Maybe then all fans and members of the community can feel like proud insiders as well.

  5. Looking at the picture alone it’s easy to see Mr Perine makes very valid points. I’m sure there were reasons for the choices there were made from architectural to zoning and financial. Even though A strong case is made here for unfair availability of good seats this design is a port choice from a marketing and revenue perspective as well. Being very familiar with ticketing, venues around the world, sponsorship and promotion in my career, this design is very limited in its offerings to consumers and event producers and may hurt the schools potential to grow here and attract outside business during downtime. Me Perine clearly is a fan of the school and the community. The school may want to take notice and speak to him and others with outside perspectives. Then maybe come football season fans like him will spend with loyalty like welcomed insiders.

  6. Mr. Perine made some valid points. Many of the major stadiums in the country cater to their home fans & are visible from a major highway. Football is king in Alabama. Birmingham should have a premier stadium!!!

  7. Birmingham needs to get this right. Building a bad stadium is not something that can be fixed. Your stuck with it for decades

  8. Thanks Mr. Perine bringing these issues to the attention of Bham, now bham fix it! The seating issue & view from the interstate are huge issues of this stadium is to succeed as more than a small time football venue.

  9. I don’t know much about football but I know a nice stadium when I see it and this is not one of them. This stadium will not bring the city any revenue if it is poorly designed. I mean really, when have you ever seen a press box down low?….

  10. Nice blog. I’m glad that TJ Perine has pointed out somethings that may need to be reviewed prior to construction. Maybe they’ll see this and consider make what’s sounds like appropriate changes – For the Common Man

  11. Can the problem with the home side seating be solved by designating the other side as the home side? Is it too late to make any changes to the design of the stadium? Is the Birmingham Bowl going to be played at Protective Life Stadium? If so, the home side seating will not be an issue because there is no home team. Nor will it be an issue for concerts or political rallies. I am hesitant to make any changes that would delay the project. It will still be better than Legion of Doom Field.

  12. I’m not sure why everyone on here is up in arms about this one. I won’t touch the social justice comment except to say that If a certain group of people or social class is being discriminated against, that’s obviously an issue and needs to be addressed …I don’t see that being the case here, but maybe there’s something I’m not aware of. That’s not the reason for my post.

    But regarding the statements about “bad seats”, “baking in the sun”, etc., i just don’t agree. I’ve been a Tennessee Titans season ticket holder since 1999. My seats are in the end zone, and i (along with the ticket holders around me) love our seats. We love the view of the game, the easy accessibility of our seats, proximity to concessions, etc. way more than the “traditional” home sideline lower bowl seats. Bottom line – in a modern stadium, if the seats are comfortable (some combination of seat backs, arm rests, cup holders, and leg room), there typically aren’t any “bad seats”.

    Regarding the sun-baked seats on the other side: first of all, if it’s an 11am kickoff, ALL the seats are going to be in the sun. Yes, those September games can be a little hot. But by mid-October, it’s likely going to be comfortable regardless of the position of the sun…and by November everyone is going to be wishing for more sun than they have. I just can’t believe we are having a real discussion about how a stadium is oriented with regards to the position of the sun in the sky.

    Lastly, i think too much is being made about “home side” and “visitor’s side”. If our expectation is that somehow UAB fans will predominantly sit on the “home side” and visiting fans will congregate on the other side (like at a Vestavia Hills high school game)…then yes, it’s a little bit of an unorthodox stadium design. But if our expectations are that UAB will continue to grow into a mature college program with an established fan base, then there will be no “home side”…our fans will be sitting all around the stadium, and the few visiting fans fortunate enough to secure tickets will be relegated to one or two sections near one of the end zones. When I go to a game in Tuscaloosa, I don’t see fans up in arms because they didn’t get tickets in the 25 rows directly behind the home bench…I see fans excited to be in the stadium regardless of where their seats are located (which should be our expectation for future UAB games).

    I won’t disagree on the lack of visibility from the interstate. It would be great if the stadium could be the “centerpiece” of the downtown area…but land availability may not have allowed that. Obviously a “taller” stadium might be more visible, i won’t comment on why the short profile as i don’t know what drove the current design.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about future pro football opportunities. The NFL isn’t coming…and if they ever did, a 45,000 seat stadium isn’t going to cut it…and it would be dumb to build this stadium as a 60,000 seat structure “just in case” the NFL ever wanted to come to BHM. Regarding XFL or other potential future leagues, i don’t think the stadium design is going to negatively impact our potential to host a team. If the AAF thought Legion Field was acceptable for the Birmingham Iron, I’m sure this new venue would be more than acceptable to a future “second tier” pro football league.

  13. I notice a lot more passion about a football stadium than about busting the disastrous government monopoly on education. What we desperately need is a separation of school and state. Competition in a free marketplace works for everything and it would work for education. Vouchers worked after World War II with the GI Bill and they would work now.

  14. Does Alabama or Auburn or any conference school have “home” or “visitor” side? I don’t think so. It’s something you see in high schools. If you want better seats, donate some cash. I don’t have it, but I will gladly take whatever they have available to see my team.

  15. Sit on the visitor’s side and wear a hat? Let’s fill those seats with UAB Football Justice Warriors of all stripes. All fourteen of the visiting Rice fans can sit in the corner (and, why DOES Rice play Texas anyway?)

    If you build it, they will come. Enjoy.

  16. As usual, I notice a lot more passion about a football facility than about eliminating the disastrous government monopoly on education and getting some quality for a change. We need a separation of school and state, and we need education vouchers. The competition inherent in free enterprise works everywhere, and education vouchers worked fine after World War II with the GI Bill.

    1. We are getting off the subject but I will respond anyway because this is important.

      I am for expanding school choice for parents and their children. But we have to do it right. We must not force taxpayers to support religious schools. Not all taxpayers want to give money to help parents send their children to schools that teach that dinosaurs never existed. Also I don’t think that Protestants and Jews want to be forced to support Catholic schools.

  17. There are enough serious and passionate UAB supporters and Birmingham boosters involved in this debate to warrant a closer examination of the current stadium design. From what I’ve heard, no one unhappy with the design thinks the stadium is a bad idea, rather they think it’s a great idea, but the flaws/shortcomings they’ve identified in its design are serious enough for them to voice strong opinions about it. They want the stadium to be the best it can be.

    The stadium will be a major focal point for the city for years/decades to come. There are problems with the current design as outlined by other commenters. We all want the design to be what’s best for Birmingham. It’s time to take a long thoughtful look at the design and make sure it’s the best it can be. My hope is the City’s Design and Review Committee will tackle this issue and require needed changes to the current design.

  18. Interestingly, this article was on al.com, but now its not. I think these are some great points by Terance. If your stadium plan does not work for UAB season ticket holders, it is a problem. I understand that this is a public/private partnership, but the primary tenant is UAB football. I asked an architect friend with with some sports venue experience to take a look at the artist renderings, and his comment was, “that’s a stadium built for the World Games soccer matches.” Not sure if that is relevant or not, but an interesting take.

  19. Mr. Perine, I have been waiting too long to complain about the latest design for the new stadium,. Now you have brilliantly explained all that is wrong with it. This simply absolutely must be changed right now before it is too late.! Or there will be a monstrous waste of money, and loss of purpose. What is the underlying problem? Is is the useless and imagination limited high standing people who see Birmingham simply as a low level city, who must be more interested in saving money than advancing the city. World Games is coming so get going now. CHANGE IT TOTALLY. This place will be seen all around the world after all. Do you really want to present Birmingham as a ‘no place?’ I think not

    Actually I want to add this to the discussion. I am an experienced architect and Professor of Architecture, Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and know the firm HOK whose ‘Populus’ division designed this. Generally they are better than this. I have visited the Houston Office. They designed River Chase Galleria, and the Harbert Building. For Birmingham’s sake I must however report that local Davis Architects have designed a much better new stadium for UA in Tuscaloosa. They are local and know better what is wanted in Birmingham. Bring them in. The new HOK design looks as if no one even knows about either Birmingham or its football heritage at all. It can NOT happen! Now HOK is one US’s very best architecture firms and Populus is one of the best sporting facility designers so it is hard to understand that this design could be so bad unless the cause is the Birmingham City’s ignorant client; That Board or commtiee that has made this design decision is terribly ignorant about what really matters but You, Terrence Perine, absolutely see what is all wrong. all of it including the ‘social justice’ matter
    Let us do the right thing folks, please! and it will truly enhance our favorite city.

  20. Somebody correct me, but in 2009 then Mayor Larry Langford passed a one cent sales tax for a Dome Stadium… It is almost 2020… Where is THAT MONEY! Mr Perine is 100% right on all accounts. Birmingham is NOT the Football Capital of the South! Florida or either Texas now has that Title… The fact that the RTR Machine could take UAB Football out of Birmingham was SO distasteful, yet Birmingham STILL has a Black eye from stain of Civil Injustices. Birmingham COULD have bought the Georgia Dome for what they spent to blow it up, dismantled it and trucked it back to Birmingham, Birmingham has great people but Birmingham also has not so great people . The Board Members that approved that stadium didn’t have Birmingham’s interest in mind. I would like to see a forensic audit on where that Dome money went… Somebody needs to go to Jail… Where are you going to park at this stadium? Birmingham was once known as the Magic City, now might as well be the Tragic City…

  21. The civic center board and management is building the stadium for it`s needs. They figure that there are only maybe 6 games a year and UAB gets the revenue. I would assume that the civic center will have many more events in the stadium and they get all the revenue after expenses. They can charge more for box`s and seats that are closer to the field on the west side for events. UAB and the city are putting in about a third of the money to build the stadium. I do not understand why they are not demanding more seating on the west side for it`s fans and citizens. The elected leaders should be fighting for more say so. You should always build for the future, not only todays needs.

  22. I think this article is right on target. I am in the construction industry and have followed this project from the beginning. It’s a shame that local Birmingham taxpaying firms weren’t given a real chance to work on the design of this project. That was an outright lie by the BJCC.

    Beyond that, it doesn’t seem to be a stadium that was designed with football as the main purpose. I’m sure UAB will be thrilled to have a new place to play, but Birmingham is supposed to be The Football Capitol of the South….not The Concert Capitol of the South.

    This stadium could also serve as a great billboard for the City of Birmingham. Hundreds of thousands of people a day will drive by the new stadium on 20/59. The designs I have seen online don’t seem to take advantage of this fact. I am all for Birmingham doing projects like this. I think it’s great. I just hope this one isn’t a wasted opportunity.

    1. I can not forget what a horrible mistake in planning done to Birmingham by ALDOT and they would not got out of their hideous mud. The I-59-20 cut through the middle of the city as an awful extended bridge. That did so much damage to the city and it is insisting on and is doing it again, as if they can NOT learn anything. It broke up the city, tore it apart. Horrible! And the could not resist doing it again. They did nothing to correct the mistake, they repeated it. Now why a I saying that? Becuass it is so import to get this expensive stadium properly designed and built right now. Or we will be suck with that as a mistake for decades. That would be a terrible waste of any and opportunity to really enhance our city. As well, it cold be a way to somewhat enhance the interstate pass through a little also.
      Get local architects and contractors at least involved for what they know about this place and its people. How could anyone out in Missouri know about those things? They can only actually guess. Even though they are great world renowned architects this is the truth about their ability to understand this situation: very limited. Not imte lieft to ‘think about this! ACT NOW!

  23. PREACH ON T! This Stadium will hurt Birmingham! I don’t work 2 jobs and drive in from Palmerdale for ever game to have to sit in the corner seats!

  24. Right on target Terrance P. Rine!! Looks like this design was meant to be a civil war fort or something. Birmingham deserves better.

  25. Mr. Perine is right. This is a terrible stadium design.

    Fix it now while it is just on paper. Once it is built it will be too late to correct the mistakes.

    1. If built,this horrendous stadium would very clearly be a total waste of money, that could have been applied to building a good stadium that would truly benefit Birmingham and its entire metro area. and its status as a worthwhile city. If they do not change this design right now, then Birmingham will experience further supression, something our fine city neither wants nor needs!

  26. The form, the appearance with relation to its placement, viewing the game, seats for all, all of these need to be corrected. Make it another icon for the city not just a little piece of useless waste of money. The financial supporters should not be treated this way.

    Spread the word far and wide to get it to happen. Redesign the stadium right now before it is too late. Stop order. Cost more?> Work that out, Cheap is not a good sign of the character or outlook of the city. Overspend? No, for that is not good for the city’s reputation either. Best design and construction for the money that should be the aim, and this design is nowhere near there. It would be a total waste of money, worse than cheap, Get it done. Now! ‘Better late than never’ is not good! and for this it will not work!

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