Birmingham City Council votes to pay $1 million a year to hold Magic City Classic at Legion Field

Birmingham City Council is expected Tuesday to approve Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s proposal to allocate $1 million annually to keep the Magic City Classic at Legion Field for at least the next four years. The proposal was adopted unanimously by the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on 14 November and is on the Council’s agenda for tomorrow’s meeting.

The proposal would see Alabama State and Alabama A&M, 81-year-old participants in the annual historically black college rivalry, each receive $500,000 a year through 2026.

Related: City Council Budget and Finance Committee approves Mayor’s proposal to keep historic rivalry in Birmingham alive

The current agreement expired after the 2022 Classic, a 24-17 comeback win at Alabama State last month. After the competition, each school received a check for $400,000 from the city. Previous payouts were: $212,500 (2018), $325,000 (2019), $350,000 (2020) and $375,000 (2021).

The Classic is one of the city’s top-grossing sporting and entertainment events.

“Every year, fans from across the state and the Southeast flock to Birmingham to take part in one of the oldest football rivalries in our state,” said Councilman Hunter Williams. “This event is an excellent opportunity not only to showcase the talent of Alabama State University and Alabama A&M, but also brings a camaraderie that can be felt across the city. Continuing to host the game at Legion Field will add to the long-standing tradition in the city.”

The mayor’s proposal followed the decision of the university presidents – Dr. Alabama A&M’s Daniel K. Wims and ASU’s Quinton Ross — to end speculation about the Classic’s potential move to Protective Stadium Downtown and keep it at the historic Old Gray Lady for at least another four years.

Related: The Presidents of ASU and AAM decided to remain at Legion Field

“There are some things that need to be worked out before coming to a final conclusion, it’s not an easy process,” said Dr. Wims, “but it is our intention to try to keep that 80+ year tradition in Birmingham alive at Legion Field for at least the next few years and I think we both agree on that.”

“We prefer to remain at Legion Field,” said Dr. Horse. “Let’s put this to rest.”

Councilor and Committee Member LaTonya Tate said she was “excited” that the Classic will remain at Legion Field and expressed a desire to “see what we can do as a city to make some improvements to Legion Field and more alongside the Classic.” to attract events to the stadium.”

Woodfin’s chief of staff, Chaz Mitchell, mentioned several recent improvements – the installation of playing turf certified by the International Association of Federation Football (FIFA), new seats and other upgrades – and said that the council’s most recent allocation of 1 million US dollars for stadium upgrades would likely be used for new LED lighting and painting the venue. “It might seem like the saying ‘put lipstick on a pig,’ but she needs it; the Old Gray Lady is breaking out,” he said.

To offset its financial contribution, the City of Birmingham withholds revenue generated from parking (including tailgating), concessions and sales tax on all items sold at the Game. It also makes Legion Field available to the Classic rent-free and covers some game-day operations.

Other income comes mainly from sponsorship and ticket sales. Net proceeds (after deducting expenses) will be split between Alabama A&M and ASU (40% each) and the Alabama Sports Council (33% of first $150,000 raise; 20% of all amounts over $150,000), which the Bruno Event Team ( flat fee) to attract sponsors and manage some of the logistics and matchday operations, including signing talent for the post-match concert and the ambassador.