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Birmingham City Councilors Celebrate UAB Legacy Pavilion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Hundreds gathered under the 70-foot-high pavilion built to house the newly resurrected University of Alabama at Birmingham football team.

The crowd of fans, donors, and students cheered loudly as the group of elected officials, CEOs, and coaches cut the ribbon in unison, marking the official opening of the sprawling new facility. The football team could be seen practicing on the adjacent facility as the ceremony took place.

In just 15 days, the Blazers will square up against Alabama A&M at Legion Field. The last time the Blazer football team was on the field was Nov. 29, 2014, when the team defeated Southern Miss and became bowl eligible for the first time in a decade. It was Bill Clark’s first year as head coach.

Nearly three, uncertain, years later, Clark stood at the podium on Friday morning and expressed his gratitude for everyone who helped bring the program back to life and that he was committed to going undefeated this season. “That’s our goal. That’s where we want to go,” Clark said over the applause.

Councilors Sheila Tyson, whose district includes UAB, along with Council Pro Tem Steven Hoyt, and Valerie Abbott took to the stage overlooking the new weight room facility while they gave brief remarks about how important having a UAB football program is to the communities they represent.

“I wanted all the Councilors here, because even though UAB is in District 6, I couldn’t have done it without their support,” Tyson said. “What made me fall in love with Coach Clark is how he participated in the community…That’s very rare in an institution this big, you have someone who is willing to reach back and pull everyone up.”

In May 2015, the Birmingham City Council passed a resolution appropriating $2.5 million to UAB — over a five-year period — if the university reinstated the football program. “We made a commitment last year that if UAB brought their football program back that we would certainly as a city sponsor and support them and our vote this week solidifies that commitment,” Council President Austin said in 2015. “Our financial support is another sign of our promise to foster a positive and continuous relationship with UAB.”

Hoyt said he plans on attending this year’s games and expects the Blazers to win every one. “We wouldn’t be the city we are without UAB,” Hoyt said, thanking UAB President Ray Watts who was seated in the front row. “I have an affinity for UAB. My brother was one of the first people to receive a defibrillator that saved his life. And I married a UAB nurse, so this place has a special place in my heart…Go Blazers!”

This article is a contribution from Cody Owens (coowens@birminghamal.gov) in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.