Atlanta United Weekend
As many people know, Birmingham Legion FC have moved into the new gem of Birmingham, Protective Stadium. There have been many concerns going into this massive 46,000 person stadium, but there have been very good impressions so far. This blog post will for some unfiltered thoughts on our first weekend at “The Reach”, as other fans have dubbed it.
Meet the Players Event
What a way to welcome fans into the stadium. While some people were allowed into the stadium a few months ago, this was my first experience with Protective Stadium. What an event to welcome the fans and even some of the players in. The club area is BEAUTIFUL, almost forced my hand into upgrading my season tickets. I’ve been in a ton of new facilities and it’s hard to remember many better than this one. The event was ELECTRIC. The field was under some construction to get it all done and dusted by Sunday, but even then, it looked STUNNING. For those who drink “adult beverages”, they have every single drink you could ever imagine. It seems like it will be a great experience.
I haven’t been to a game yet, but we’ll see what I think come Sunday…
Match Day Experience
While the 4-0 loss to Atlanta United was not the way Legion FC fans wanted to open Protective Stadium, but the stadium quickly proved to be the correct move for the club. The new turf looked fantastic, the turf played well, the players played well on it, and THERE WAS NO SAND!
Even though some fans were concerned over the size, and it is certainly a concern, the closeness of fans to the pitch is a MASSIVE improvement from BBVA. If fans think back to the old stadium, there was a massive sidewalk AND the higher bleachers AND field seating separating fan from pitch. Now, the seats are less than 15 feet from the playing area. Fans are actually CLOSER to the field now.
Don’t get me wrong, there are concerns. A lot of them. Today looked to have about 8-10 thousand people, but felt much smaller than that. The size of BBVA is scary. While fans are closer, if they’re spread out, it feels like noise will get lost along the way. The secret is that tarps are needed. There’s nothing wrong with it either. Tarps make the seats look less empty, and it forces fans to sit more condensed. It’s something the club needs to consider, and in my opinion, it should be near the top for priorities for the stadium.
From my area in the press box, I could hear both sets of fans very clearly. The sound travels well in the stadium, so if that’s what people are worried about, don’t. It’s going to be okay. I drug one of my best friends along to this match. He had NEVER attended a soccer match before, but he said leaving that he wants to come back. While it’s not as close and intimate as BBVA, new fans don’t care. They will love it.
It’s not the perfect home, but it’s the best option we have in Birmingham. Let’s make the best of it and have an absolute PARTY.