A groundbreaking ceremony has taken place for a new 55,000-seat stadium that officials state will be “transformational” for the way the city of Birmingham, Alabama approaches tourism and entertainment.

While work on the project isn’t set to commence until the spring or summer of next year, the $174m (£138m/€153.4m) stadium will be built on the site of the current Birmingham–Jefferson Convention Complex.

It will host University of Alabama American football games, and has been earmarked for completion by mid-2021 when it will be used as a venue for Birmingham’s stating of that year’s edition of the World Games multi-sport event.

“This stadium will be the home stadium for the UAB Blazers but on 350 some odd other days it’s going to be a great attribute for the city of Birmingham,” University of Alabama at Birmingham president Ray Watts said, according to the AL.com website.

“It’s going to be the finest facility of its kind in the state of Alabama, and with the renovation of the (Legacy) Arena and the entire complex I too believe this is probably the most important economic development project in the city of Birmingham today.”

Populous is overseeing the main design work for the project, with other local design firms to be appointed. Earlier this year, multiple government bodies and groups reached an agreement for $313m in bond funding for the stadium and redevelopment of the Legacy Arena.

“What we are witnessing is a transformational experience for our community, not just for the BJCC but for Birmingham itself,” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin added. “We will be transforming the way we approach tourism as well as entertainment with this state-of-the-art facility.”

Image: Populous