Birmingham haters—Eat your hearts out

2013 World Games Cali, Colombia. (Photo compliments of World Games)

By David Sher

When I first began publishing ComebackTown ten years ago, comments were often dominated by the Birmingham haters and the so called CAVE people—Citizens Against Virtually Everything.

Birmingham was going nowhere and the Birmingham haters were relentless.

Well, POOF!

Birmingham’s reinvented itself and by the end of summer the world will know.

Birmingham is about to get the most positive national and international attention since it was first called ‘The Magic City’  over a century ago.

(Of all cities in the U.S.)–Fox and the USFL chose Birmingham

Fox Sports decided to invest $150 million in a new USFL football league, grant Birmingham a team, and select it to host every league game the first season.

That’s 8 teams playing 43 games in a 12 week period between April and July. Gene Hallman, president/CEO of Bruno Event Team said,  “Never before had a professional football league played all of its season’s games in one city.”

Fox Sports owns the USFL and NBC is its network partner. All games will be televised on Fox and related networks–14 on Fox, 9 on NBC, 9 on USA Network, 4 on Peacock, and 8 on FS1.

The first game, between the New Jersey Generals and the Birmingham Stallions, will be broadcast both on Fox and NBC.

Most games will be played in Protective Stadium with 8 to 11 games played at Legion Field.

Public officials project that 40,000 hotel room nights will be needed. The Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates an economic impact on our city, county, and region of $15 million in addition to the national publicity.

And it’s a good thing that the USFL season ends on July 3rd since the World Games come to Birmingham four days later.

(Of all cities in the world)–The World Games chose Birmingham

It’s truly remarkable that Birmingham was selected to host the World Games.

This will be the first time the World Games have been hosted in the United States since the inaugural World Games in Santa Clara, California, in 1981.

Thirty-six-hundred of the world’s best athletes from over 100 countries, competing in 34 sports, will converge on Birmingham generating an estimated $256 million for the city with upwards of 500,000 spectators. The games will take place at various venues across the Birmingham metro area—including Protective Stadium, Legion Field, the Birmingham CrossPlex, the Hoover Met Complex, Oak Mountain State Park, and Barber Motorsports Park.

And then there’s the international publicity.

CBS Sports will televise a total of 12 hours of coverage; CBS Sports Network will air one-hour highlight shows after each day of competition over the 10-day event. Additionally, the CBS Television Network will broadcast two, one-hour specials, with broadcast  coverage also streaming on Paramount+ Premium.

(Out of all cities in the world)–Condé Nast Traveler chose Birmingham as one of the best places to go in 2022

Conde Nast Traveler, one of the most iconic international travel magazines in the world, chose Birmingham not as one of the best places to visit in the South; not as one of the best places to visit in the U.S.; but as one of the best places to visit in the world.

The magazine cited Birmingham’s abundance of first-class restaurants and hotels, as well as its markets and green spaces.

And Conde Nast is really excited with City Walk BHAM,  the new linear park now being developed under the I-59/20 Bridge downtown.

A decade ago Birmingham was in a rut and couldn’t seem to find its way.

Today Birmingham is getting ready to host two hugely visible and prestigious sporting events.

Yes, I guess it’s still possible to be a Birmingham hater.

But who would take you seriously?

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David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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11 thoughts on “Birmingham haters—Eat your hearts out”

  1. David: Comeback Town’s journey has been a long one, but worth every step! You have created a space for conversation, and along the way you and others have shown us what we can be. A big part of success is believing in yourself. You have always believed in the possibilities of Birmingham. Thanks to you for staying the course.

    1. Amen, Maury!

      I honestly would have lost faith in BHM as well if I didn’t know that you, David Sher, and other contributors to this blog have been working so hard to keep the dream alive. I moved here 12 years ago, never expecting to stay past college, and am happy to still be living here, potentially for the rest of my life.

  2. Born in Birmingham at St Vincents, & have always loved our awesome city!! Just Love it~So proud for our “Magic City! “ ❤️👍

  3. There are CAVE people and there are also sunshine pumpers. No one denies all these are good positive things but none of them would cause someone to choose Birmingham over Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, etc. Where Birmingham is named in one magazine, those cities are named in twenty. World Games is awesome but they didn’t choose Birmingham because it’s light shines brighter than anywhere else. Same with the USFL. It’s really good news I agree! And maybe it will help elevate the status of the city.

    But there’s one MAJOR metric you’re not mentioning – a declining population. In a time where trendy metros are seeing high growth, Birmingham is going backwards. It’s population is shrinking comparatively. The US national growth rate was about 7%, BHM/Hoover metro grew at about 5% with Birmingham city actually losing population. If Birmingham was as much the cat’s meow as you alluded to, don’t you think it would be growing by leaps and bounds?

    1. Jake, I’m guilty as charged. I am a sunshine pumper. All cities ebb and flow and our Birmingham region has had good decades and bad decades. And everything you said about Birmingham is accurate. But for some reason our Birmingham region is turning itself around. How do you explains the World Games choosing Birmingham or Fox choosing Birmingham as its linchpin city for the USFL? How do you explain Smucker’s choosing the Birmingham area for it’s $1.2 billion expansion? Just ask any commercial real estate broker in the Birmingham region and they will tell you they can’t keep up with the activity. We can concentrate on our past (which is sometimes done on ComebackTown) or we be a sunshine pumper. Thanks for your comments. They are much appreciated.

  4. Wonderful post, David. As Maury pointed out, your love and optimism for our metro area has never wavered. And that is much appreciated!

    I don’t want to be another Nashville, Atlanta, Dallas, or Austin. I just want a better version of what we have—& I think we’re getting there. It’s not so much about quantity as it is QUALITY!

  5. Left B’ham 42 years ago to go to Houston and returned two years ago. Great to see the recent progress but sad to see it’s taking so long. We have so much to offer – no traffic – no pollution – great trees everywhere – many smaller towns to visit. Now that all of the yard work done – can wait to explore the many parks etc. Let’s go B’ham. Roger & Terri – Easley and UAB grads.

  6. We just moved here from Austin because it reminds us of “GOA”: Good Ole Austin. That was before the high rises took over and destroyed Austin’s historic venues and with it, its soul. We also love the cost of living here and the entrepreneurial opportunities. Keep it goin BHam!

  7. Born and raised in B’ham. Haven’t lived there for decades but have family there and always get a warm and comfortable feeling when I’m there. B’ham’s been through a lot in her lifetime and this comeback couldn’t happen to a better city. HOORAY!!!

  8. For the record, my family is one of those families who could have moved to one of the burgeoning metro areas, but chose not to for the same reasons Roger/Terri/Jame mentioned.
    Now that mine and my peers jobs are more remote and we can live anywhere in the US, I wouldn’t trade our relatively low cost of living, lower traffic, and ease of access to all of my favorite places for the hectic mess of a larger city.
    Not sure if it’s been mentioned in this blog or not, but one of the statistics that has come out of the pandemic is people leaving major urban areas for the same reasons I live here, since their jobs don’t require them to live in the same area as the company’s physical location.
    David, if you’re reading this and you know an expert who could comment on that, I’d love to see their take in a blog post!

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