Protective Stadium, a new 45,000-seat venue in Birmingham, Alabama, hosted its first event on Saturday ahead of its staging of the World Games multi-sport event in 2022.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB)’s Blazers American football team fell to a 36-12 loss to Liberty University on Saturday, with the attendance at Protective Stadium announced as 37,167.
Work on Protective Stadium began in 2019 and the venue has been built at a cost of $200m (£147m/€172m). The stadium forms part of the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, which also includes the 19,000-seat Legacy Arena.
Birmingham had been due to stage the World Games this year but the event was postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It followed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and the delay means that there will be two ‘Birmingham 2022’ events next year, with the English city scheduled to stage the Commonwealth Games.
Financial services company Protective Life agreed a naming-rights deal for Protective Stadium in April 2019. Protective signed the 15-year deal with Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex, which operates the stadium. Protective Stadium replaces Legion Field as the home of UAB’s American football team.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, UAB athletics director Mark Ingram said: “I have said this many times, and I truly believe that Protective Stadium is the nicest college football stadium in America. The fan amenities are incredible, and we are excited to provide you with the best experience possible throughout the season.”
He added: “We are looking forward to accommodating fans safely this season. UAB requires wearing a mask indoors – regardless of vaccine status – unless actively eating or drinking and encourages masks during outdoor events.
“In addition, the Jefferson County Department of Health is offering free COVID-19 vaccines prior to the game, and a mobile vaccine station will be set up adjacent to Blazer Village beginning at 2pm and closing at 5:30pm. Those who receive the vaccine on October 2 will receive two complimentary tickets to a future 2021 UAB Football home game of their choice.”
In January, it was announced that Centerplate would provide hospitality services at Protective Stadium as part of a long-term deal that incorporates the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex and Legacy Arena.
Centerplate had an existing agreement in place with the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Authority to serve guests at the Convention Complex and Legacy Arena, and the new 12-year deal extends this commitment and also includes Protective Stadium.
Image: UAB Blazers