Regions Field

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To be distinguished from Regions Park, the former name of the Birmingham Barons' former home stadium in Hoover.
Regions Field
Regions Park.png
Regions Field western elevation.jpg
Western elevation along 14th Street South
Location 1401 1st Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35233
Coordinates 33°30′27″N 86°48′37″W / 33.50763°N 86.810218°W / 33.50763; -86.810218Coordinates: 33°30′27″N 86°48′37″W / 33.50763°N 86.810218°W / 33.50763; -86.810218
Broke ground February 2, 2012[1][2]
Opened April 10, 2013[3]
Owner City of Birmingham[4]
Operator Birmingham Baseball Club, Inc.[4]
Surface Natural grass
Construction cost $64 million[5]
($64.8 million in 2014 dollars[6])
Architect HKS, Inc.[7]
Hoskins Architecture[7]
GA Studio[7]
Structural engineer MBA Structural Engineers[7]
Services engineer KHAFRA Engineering Consultants, Inc.[7]
General contractor Robins & Morton/A. G. Gaston[7]
Capacity 8,500
Tenants
Birmingham Barons (2013–Present)
UAB Blazers (NCAA Division I) (2014–Present)

Regions Field, is the name of a minor league baseball park in the Southside community of Birmingham, Alabama, USA. It is the home field for the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League, and replaced Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover as their home field. It also serves as the second home field along with Jerry D. Young Memorial Field for the UAB Blazers. Regions Field is located adjacent to the Railroad Park, just south of downtown Birmingham.

Baseball in Birmingham traces its history to 1885 with the establishment of the original Barons, and from 1910 to 1987, professional baseball teams called Rickwood Field home. In 1988, the Barons moved to Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, leaving the city of Birmingham without professional baseball. In 2009, a proposal surfaced to build a downtown stadium to bring baseball back to Birmingham. After a feasibility study was completed, in October 2010, the city lodging tax was increased to finance its construction and in November 2010, a tentative agreement was reached to bring the Barons back to Birmingham. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new facility on February 2, 2012, and the park celebrated its grand opening on April 10, 2013.

History[edit]

The history of professional baseball in Birmingham began with the establishment of the Barons as one of the charter members of the original Southern League in 1885.[8] In 1910, the Barons moved into Rickwood Field, and professional baseball in Birmingham was played exclusively at Rickwood through 1987. The final game played at Rickwood with the Barons as the primary tenant occurred on September 9, 1987, when they lost to the Charlotte O's 5–4 in the second game of the Southern League championship series.[9][10] The following season, the Barons moved into the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in the suburb of Hoover.[10][11] From 1988-2013, the only professional baseball played in Birmingham was the annual Rickwood Classic, established in 1996.[11][12]

After two decades without baseball in Birmingham, in 2009 Corporate Realty Development brought forward a proposal to build a new stadium for the Barons adjacent to the Railroad Park.[13] In April 2010, a privately funded, $40,000 feasibility study was commissioned, and in September its findings were released.[14][15] The study indicated the construction of a stadium could potentially result in over $500 million in direct and indirect spending in the city.[15]

In October 2010, the Birmingham City Council approved an ordinance by a vote of eight to one to increase the city's lodging tax by 3.5 percentage points to finance the construction of the stadium.[16][17] At the time of its approval, the tax was expected to generate $5 million annually.[16] Additionally, a provision in the ordinance called for a repeal of the tax by January 2012 if the Barons were unable to relocate or a primary tenant for the facility could not be found.[16] On November 4, an agreement was reached between the City of Birmingham and Barons ownership to relocate the team as the primary tenant of the stadium upon its completion.[18]

In July 2011, the location for the stadium was unveiled as being along First Avenue South, between 14th and 16th Streets South.[19] The majority of the properties involved were acquired through a land swap with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and the remaining were purchased from private landholders.[19] In September, the building team for the stadium was released with 61 percent being minority-owned firms and most based in Birmingham.[7]

The official groundbreaking ceremony was held for the estimated $60 million stadium on February 2, 2012.[1][2] At that time, the name of the stadium as Regions Field was unveiled, with the naming rights purchased by Birmingham-based Regions Financial Corporation.[1][2] On March 14 the Birmingham Design Review Committee approved the site plan for the facility to allow for its construction to commence upon completion of the on-site demolition.[20] After just over one year of construction, Regions Field opened on April 10, 2013, for a sold out game against the Mississippi Braves.[3]

In 2013, the Barons and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) reached an agreement to allow for the Blazers baseball team to schedule as many games as would allow at Regions Field.[21] As such, UAB scheduled 21 of their 30 home games for the 2014 season at Regions Field.[21] In their first game played at Regions Field, the Blazers shutout UT–Martin 5–0.[22]

Design[edit]

Baseball stadium at night from center field.
Perspective from beyond center field in April 2013.

The design team for the stadium included HKS, Inc. of Dallas and both Hoskins Architecture and GA Studio of Birmingham.[23] The stadium facade utilizes brick and steel in an effort to both serve as homage to Birmingham's industrial past and to better blend with the surrounding neighborhood.[24] Specifically, design elements inspired from Rickwood Field and Sloss Furnaces were utilized in its physical design.[20] The main entrance is located at the corner of 14th Street South and First Avenue South, the main concourse is located at street level and the playing field is located 16 feet (4.9 m) below street grade.[20]

The original layout of the stadium had center field located at the northern end of the facility with the backdrop being the skyline of downtown Birmingham.[24] However, its orientation was changed in the final design with center field located at the eastern end of the facility with the backdrop being the downtown Birmingham skyline, UAB and the medical district and Red Mountain.[24] The change was made as a result of Birmingham's irregular street grid that is oriented about thirty degrees from magnetic north in order to meet guidelines set forth by Major League Baseball for stadium orientation as it relates to sun angle.[24][25]

As part of the overall design, 250 parking spaces are provided on-site as part of its grounds.[26] However, in order to reach the 2,500 spaces necessary for the project as a whole, agreements were made to utilize existing parking garages owned by the Children's Hospital of Alabama, Jefferson County, Cooper Green Mercy Hospital and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, located within a five- to ten-minute walk of the stadium.[26] The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority also provides free bus service to and from the stadium and the Central Station located on Morris Avenue.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Bryant, Joseph D. (February 2, 2012). "Hundreds Gather for Birmingham Baseball Park Groundbreaking". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Hill, Benjamin (February 2, 2012). "Barons' New Park Coined Regions Field". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Crenshaw, Jr., Solomon (April 10, 2013). "Regions Field Ribbon-Cutting at 4:50 p.m.; Governor Bentley to Participate in Grand Opening". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved April 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Bryant, Joseph D. (October 28, 2010). "Birmingham Works on Details Following Vote for Ballpark Funding". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  5. ^ Williams, Roy L. (January 29, 2012). "New Downtown Birmingham Barons Ballpark Has Businesses in on Deck Circle for Luxury Seats". The Birmingham News. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 
  6. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Tomberlin, Michael (September 4, 2011). "Birmingham's Ballpark Building Team Now in Place". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ Barra, Allen (2010). Rickwood Field: A Century in America's Oldest Ballpark. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-393-06933-4. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Charlotte Evens Series". The Gadsden Times. Associated Press. September 10, 1987. p. D4. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Harwell, Hoyt (September 10, 1987). "Barons Say Goodbye to Rickwood Field". The Gadsden Times. Associated Press. p. D4. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Birmingham Barons: History". Minor League Baseball. February 1, 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  12. ^ Stansell, Scott (June 10, 1996). "Barons Will Take a Trip Back in Time". The Gadsden Times. p. B1. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  13. ^ DeButts, Jimmy (July 26, 2009). "Developers Pitching Downtown Ballpark". Birmingham Business Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  14. ^ DeButts, Jimmy (April 18, 2010). "Private Sources Put up $16K for Downtown Ballpark Study". Birmingham Business Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Bryant, Joseph D. (September 23, 2010). "New Birmingham Ballpark Would Make $500 Million Impact, Study Says". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c Bryant, Joseph D. (October 27, 2010). "Birmingham City Council Approves Funding for Baseball Stadium, Raises Lodging Tax". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  17. ^ Ohnemus, Phillip (October 26, 2010). "Downtown Stadium Update". WIAT (Birmingham, AL). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  18. ^ Segrest, Doug (November 4, 2010). "Barons Reach Agreement with Birmingham to Move to Proposed Downtown Ballpark". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Bryant, Joseph D. (July 27, 2011). "Site Set for Downtown Birmingham Ball Park". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c Tomberlin, Michael (March 15, 2012). "Regions Field Baseball Park Plan Gets OK From Birmingham Design Review Committee". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Champlin, Drew (February 14, 2014). "Baseball at Regions Field Begins Today as UAB Opens Regular Season". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  22. ^ Champlin, Drew (February 14, 2014). "Chase Mallard Dominates on the Mound in UAB's Season-Opening Win Over UT–Martin". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 23, 2014. 
  23. ^ Tomberlin, Michael (September 7, 2011). "Future Birmingham Barons Ballpark's Orientation to Keep Fans in Mind". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  24. ^ a b c d Tomberlin, Michael (December 24, 2011). "Birmingham Baseball Park Design Angled for Good View". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved February 5, 2012. 
  25. ^ Dial, Stan (April 6, 2012). "Sloss Furnaces Was Muse for Birmingham's Future Regions Field Ballpark". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Bryant, Joseph D. (June 21, 2012). "Birmingham Barons' Downtown Stadium Parking Plans Being Developed". The Birmingham News (Alabama Media Group). Retrieved June 27, 2012. 

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