New United Soccer League (USL) franchise Birmingham Legion FC has found a venue to play its home matches with the signing of a deal to lease the University of Alabama’s (UAB) BBVA Compass Field.
The on-campus stadium, which is currently in the process of a US$7.3m expansion of a new grandstand and facilities, will seat 6,000 fans and be ready for the new tenant to move in for its first USL season in 2019.
“UAB is proud to partner with Legion FC and the USL in support of this important addition to Birmingham’s growing sports and entertainment landscape,” says UAB President Ray L Watts in a statement.
“We look forward to welcoming Blazer and Legion soccer fans to BBVA Compass Field where they will enjoy the facility expansion and enhancements now approved by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.”
Legion FC is expected to sign an eight-year lease with the UAB, which is understood to cost US$350,000 per year; however, it will have the option to cancel the contract after five years for a fee of US$1.05m.
“We are thankful for the University of Alabama System and their partnership in this decision and hope the result of it will only enhance Birmingham’s soccer community moving forward,” said Jay Heaps, Legion FC president and general manager.
“We have maintained throughout the selection process that we want to be in the city center – and this site works perfectly for our objectives.”
“A soccer-specific facility with a grass surface was high on our priority list, and this stadium is exactly that,” added Heaps. “UAB has plans to build a beautiful stadium with impressive city views, and we look forward to helping continue to develop a standard that will help professional soccer thrive here in the Magic City.”
February 18, 2018