Blazers break ground on new football facilities

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FGB HelmetHistory was made Aug. 29 when the UAB Department of Athletics broke ground for the Football Operations Center and Legacy Pavilion.

Approximately 500 people attended the ceremony, which included remarks from President Ray Watts, Athletics Director Mark Ingram, Head Coach Bill Clark, Athletics campaign committee chair Hatton Smith and Legacy Community Federal Credit Union President and CEO Joe McGee.

Watts began by thanking UAB employees, students, athletes, supporters, community partners and others for their support. “We’re so grateful for your participation in this.”

By this he meant the new 46,000-square-foot football operations center — with its locker room, training room, offices, meeting rooms, weight room — that will be attached to a covered field, called Legacy Pavilion. It is the first facility ever constructed for UAB Football.

Big day for all

“I remember last year, June 1, thinking what a big day that was and how we’re going to have so many more wonderful moments,” Ingram said. “This is just another big moment in our athletics department’s history.

“If you don’t get a little emotional right now,” Clark said and paused as he became a little emotional “thinking of where we came from.”


“I do this sometimes when I’m talking to the team and the former players I see here who have bled and sweated on this field to represent this community,” he continued. To everyone he said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for fighting for our community.”

Smith jokingly encouraged everyone to take piece of grass as a memento, because it, as everything else on the field that day, “are going to be history” when the facility is finished.

Of the support of local business leaders for UAB Athletics, Smith said: “This was a vision. It was about UAB, because UAB matters. UAB is the most powerful engine in our community. This gift was to the community, for Birmingham. This was a gift because we believe in our city. We are marching forward.” 

Looking ahead

“Today, as we commemorate the groundbreaking, we are celebrating among friends,” McGee said. “Friends who share our vision of the future for UAB and the Birmingham community. Friends who recognize the role that UAB plays in higher education and the vital key that it is as an economic engine in this community. Friends who are leaders, who will inspire the next generation to make their own contributions. Friends and donors who have stepped up to expand their level of support and make this concept a reality.”

Architects for the project are Goodwyn Mills & Cawood, and Kansas City-based HOK.  The contractor is M.J. Harris Construction, which, Ingram noted, promised to bring the project in on time.

“I know as soon as we break ground here we’ll be eagerly looking forward to the day that we get to cut the ribbon, so I look forward to everybody joining us here next summer and helping us do that,” Ingram said.