The UAB basketball team won nine straight home games, triumphed in the Conference USA Tournament, and captured a cherished birth in the NCAA Play Offs. But as the clock counted down in the final moments of the Conference USA championship game, some UAB fans broke into the all too familiar chant, “Fire Ray Watts!”
ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest blogger is Maury Shevin. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
I recently attended a meeting of real estate professionals from the Birmingham area.
Dick Schmalz, President RGS Properties, spoke about his 20 Midtown development. 20 Midtown is the new Publix, Starbucks, retail and apartment buildings that are being developed between 3rd and 4th Avenues South on both sides of 20th Street. These are not pie-in-the-sky projects. They are real with building permits and bank financing. Dick said these three projects will cost more than $100 million.
A sharecropper is someone who raises crops for the owner of a piece of land and is paid a portion of the money from the sale of the crops.
We in Birmingham have always been controlled by outside landlords.
Birmingham is the city of iron and steel and historically U.S. Steel controlled every aspect of our lives-politics, business, and people. U.S. Steel is headquartered in Pittsburgh and was for much of Birmingham’s history our largest employer. Birmingham’s labor was first to be laid off and last to be rehired. All decisions favored Pittsburgh over Birmingham, and of course, all profits were sent up north.
Fortunately, U.S. Steel is no longer our largest employer, but unfortunately we are still being impacted. February 5th, U.S. Steel announced it could lay off up to 1,840 workers here.
On September 23, 2000 the UAB Blazers beat LSU 13 to 10 and spoiled LSU’s homecoming. Nick Saban was the LSU Coach and Jimbo Fisher, now head coach at FSU, was an assistant.
I also learned…
It wasn’t just the termination of the UAB program that made folks angry, but how it was executed. There are a lot of good people who were hurt by the decision, but more importantly, there was a great deal of resentment because of the way it was handled (or not handled). Rumors swirled weeks before–then after the final game of the season the historic announcement was made. UAB students, employees, and donors felt they were lied to and betrayed. Continue reading UAB beat Saban & 5 other things I learned from writing about the UAB football fiasco→
I am dumbfounded by the unfair personal attacks against Dr. Ray Watts and UAB’s decision to shut down football.
We say we want brave leaders who are willing to make unpopular decisions when it’s for the greater good—but that certainly is not how we are responding.
It appears almost everyone—student, public, and media—are unanimously dumping on Dr. Watts. These are the same folks who had the opportunity for years to support Blazer football, but were missing in action.
There is continuous and mounting public pressure for the University of Alabama System’s Board of Trustees to offer greater resources and attention to UAB. UAB is not the commuter school that it once was. About 18,700 students are enrolled at UAB, more than half as many as UAT has. If UAB’s student population was a city, it would be the 34th largest city in Alabama. Also, while only 40% of students at UAT are from the state of Alabama, nearly 80% of UAB’s students are in-state. These are students whose families have paid taxes to support the system. Their voice matters. If football really matters to UAB students (and it should), then they will fight for their program. Regardless of football, they should fight for their school. UAB Football may take a hit, but given time the Board will inevitably come to realize that greater athletic offerings can only help UAB, the System, and the State. #FreeUAB Continue reading 5 reasons David Sher Is Wrong About UAB Football→
I tell you this to give you a sense of how long I’ve worked in our business community. I’ve witnessed first-hand Birmingham’s wins and some of our biggest disappointments. And though I love Birmingham, I join many others who feel Birmingham has never reached its full potential. Continue reading UAB the biggest and best hope for Birmingham→