Alabama's new pro soccer team finds a home at UAB
Feb. 11, 2018
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Birmingham's new professional soccer franchise will have a home when it begins league play in 2019.
Birmingham Legion FC of the United Soccer League will play its home games at the University of Alabama at Birmingham after the university completes a $7.3 million soccer stadium expansion, Al.com reports .
A University of Alabama System Board of Trustees committee approved the expansion last week.
Legion FC is expected to sign an eight-year lease with UAB after the work is done.
The new soccer stadium's grandstand will seat 4,500 to 5,000 fans. Concessions and restrooms will be expanded, and alcohol will be served during games, Al.com reported.
"It accomplishes a lot because it's right downtown and the location is perfect," Legion FC president Jay Heaps said.
"The field itself is a big, beautiful soccer pitch, and as big as it gets, but with the renovations you're seeing the atmosphere is going to be absolutely perfect for professional soccer and all soccer in that regard," he added.
The team announced the hiring of Heaps on Feb. 1. He is a former coach and player in Major League Soccer, and plans for the new stadium helped to attract him to Alabama.
"For us, it starts to capture that pride of where we're playing, but also the passion because it's going to be right on the field, and there is going to be a lot of action, and they're going to be able to see the players up close," Heaps said.
UAB's men's and women's soccer teams will also use the facility. American collegiate and pro soccer seasons do not overlap.
Legion FC will pay UAB $350,000 per year for the lease. Legion FC can opt out of the lease after five years for $1,050,000.
Information from: The Birmingham News, http://www.al.com/birminghamnews