After the announcement of the new stadium for downtown Birmingham, AL I’ve been brainstorming about what could be done with the old Legion Field site that could really work for the community and the city as a whole. There are so many options ranging from mixed-use developments, new housing, selling the land to private developers for whatever, leaving Legion Field as is, recreating the park for a completely different use and so on. I have one mixed used idea that I want my Birmingham friends to chew on. Brian K. Rice, www.briankrice.com
(1)What is next for Legion Field? Regardless of how you look at it, sports is not going away in our communities and here is an opportunity to repurpose Legion Field and the surrounding area. I say, start with what the Hoover Met did when the Birmingham Barons left them a few years ago to move to Downtown Birmingham. The Hoover Met repurposed its land to encompass 16 tennis courts, 5+ baseball and softball fields, and 5 fields for soccer, football, lacrosse, and rugby. You can take that example and modify it for the needs and interests of Birmingham. Name the top sports complexes inside the City of Birmingham and then you will see how huge the gap is when it comes to places like the modified Hoover Met. Name the park and rec center that residents from Smithfield, College Hills, Graymont, Elyton Village, East Thomas, and so on are likely to attend and then ask yourself are those complexes convenient and are they the best we can offer our community for sports as well as a multi-use facility that can be used for various programs that extend to workforce development, youth programming, and various adult programs. Birmingham is in need of a at least one complex that can be the main hub for all youth sports and adult leagues while also serving other various needs for the community. I think this can also be the spark needed to start revitalizing the surrounding area.
(2) Build an indoor facility with:
- Park and Rec main office; Satellite offices for other city agency programs that can offer daily onsite programming
- 4 or more full indoor basketball courts; 3-6 ft swimming pool with 6 or more lanes for community use
- Dedicated space for daycare just like major exercise centers would have when adults are exercising
- Dedicated space for pre-k programs, youth programs, adult workforce develop programs, etc…
- Create a model that gives people in this community, surrounding communities, and Birmingham as a whole to visit daily, which opens earlier and closes later than the other park and rec centers. Allow the center to be unlike the crossplex where it can be used for day use just like the other park and rec centers for the average citizens and not a design based primarily on larger scale events.
- When hosting tournaments, hire from the immediate community first.
- Create a true sense of community with this area.
(see below) Hoover Met $70 million complex on left and Lexington, KY 18.7 million project on right. Similar projects different cost.
(3) Build outdoor facilities :
- To host youth and adult baseball, softball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, basketball leagues and tournaments
- Open up Legion Field by tearing down seats on the east side and this area can still serve large outdoor events
- A portion of outdoor facilities can serve as a Saturday farmers market,
- When it comes to the surrounding area, I like what they are doing in Washington DC in their Anacostia community where local non profits and community stakeholders developed “a community land trust to help Anacostia residents buy homes in the area who traditionally rented. The nonprofit trust will own the land beneath properties so they can be offered at a fraction of their market value. Sales will also be restricted to people of certain incomes.” This plan is a way for low income residents who have always lived in the area to stay in the area versus being forced out by gentrification once new facilities and new homes are built. During the construction phase, there should be a requirement to hire and train so many people from this community just like they are doing for Anacostia residents.
- We have to create a community and city that works for its citizens.
Just an idea to get the conversation started. (Below is a 1 page flyer with the same information. Some prefer a single page picture, some prefer articles)
Brian K. Rice, www.briankrice.com