Today’s guest blogger is Kevin Scarbinsky.
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It happened in Birmingham.
Bear Bryant and 315. Bo over the top. Van Tiffin and the kick and “It’s good!” “It’s good.” “It’s good!” “It’s good.”
It was good. It was very, very good. It was the Iron Bowl, and it was the heart of big-time sports in this city. Past tense.
It happened in Birmingham.
The first time Arkansas called the Hogs at the SEC Basketball Tournament and Alabama’s Elliot Washington put a three-point fork in them at the buzzer. The first time they played the SEC Football Championship Game, and Alabama’s Antonio Langham stepped up, stepped in front of that Florida pass and high-stepped into history.
It was history, and it was special. No one holds their sports history as close as we do in this town, but history fades. As much as sports brings us together and moves us, sports doesn’t stand still.
It did for a long time around here, at least at the roots, at the foundation, in the core facilities that served us so well for so long but began to age as the special events and moments that used to fill them began to outgrow them.
That was then. Now? Can you say Boom? As we stand at the main entrance to Uptown and face north, we can see it and we can say it. It’s happening. It’s more than men and machines doing the site prep for Protective Stadium while other men and other machines continue to rebuild the interstate.
You don’t have to squint to recognize it. It’s vision turned into action. It’s something too few of us had and too few of us supported for too long, but thankfully, that rap is in the past.
Vision builds a new football stadium in a reawakened Football Capital of the South while it finds a meaningful purpose for the Old Gray Lady known as Legion Field. Vision gives Legacy Arena a complete makeover inside and out. Vision crystallizing into action reflects our history, expands our horizons and gives a great sports city a real chance to be the best it’s ever been.
Thanks to a rare combination of vision, leadership, teamwork and hard work, Greater Birmingham looks better every day. Look at the evidence.
UAB football, which has demonstrated to the doubters and disbelievers exactly what’s possible around here when you don’t dream too little dreams, has not lost a home game since The Return in 2017. The Blazers won their second consecutive Western Division title this season – despite losing 35 seniors – and played for a second straight Conference USA championship.
They came up short in that game, but it doesn’t alter the larger point one bit. UAB Head Coach Bill Clark and company have shown us what can happen when vision becomes action. Imagine how high their ceiling might be when they move into Protective Stadium.
That stadium is the reason the Alabama High School Athletic Association is bringing its Super 7 state football championships back to Birmingham in a rotation with Auburn and Tuscaloosa. That redone arena to come next door is the reason the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans are relocating their G League team here and there’s a real chance to bring back the NCAA Basketball Tournament on a regular basis.
There are other possibilities in the pipeline, too, in various stages of development. If you believe in the power of sports to enrich our economic development and enhance our quality of life, you should believe in what’s happening here.
As you stand outside the construction fence at Protective Stadium, you’re standing in a unique, vibrant, encouraging place. You’re standing at the corner of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Southeastern Conference headquarters and the future home of UAB football, the Super 7 and so much more. You’re standing at the crossroads of Greater Birmingham’s past, present and future.
It happened, and it’s happening. If the current vision and leadership, teamwork and hard work continue and expand, we’re headed toward a very good place. It’s a place where our kids will tell their kids the kind of stories we tell them about those times when being in Birmingham meant being in the right place at the right time.
That time has come again.
Kevin Scarbinsky’s belief in the power of sports has moved him from the Iron Bowl, Final Four, World Series, Masters and Olympics to an exciting new place in his career. He’s director of communications for the CoachSafely Foundation, a blogger for the SEC, a media consultant and storyteller for hire.
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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 for free to your group about how we can have a more prosperous metro Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org.