Could a pro sports team work in Shelby County? [COLUMN]

Published 3:26 pm Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We know how well high school football is supported in Shelby County. Could a pro team be supported here too? (File)

We know how well high school football is supported in Shelby County. Could a pro team be supported here too? (File)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer

I know what you’re thinking.

No, I’m not completely insane, I’m not delusional and as far I’ve been told, I don’t need serious help.

I know that in this state college football reigns supreme. I get it. But let’s step outside the cynical box, and dream.

One of the main detractions from a professional football team entering the Birmingham market is that the only stadium with the capacity to hold pro football is Legion Field. It’s not in a safe area and while an artifact of football history, not exactly the most unique.

So unless Legion Field gets restored to its 1940s prime, it’s not an ideal location. As much as I hate that for Birmingham and for history, it’s the truth.

So why can’t one of the fastest-growing counties in the nation step up and become the hub of the future?

If I had an endless supply of money, I’d build a retractable roof stadium similar to Houston’s. For proximity’s sake, I’d place it in between Hoover, Pelham and Chelsea to catch both 65 and 459. By placing it out of the city limits, the risk of a neighborhood around it going down the tube is nonexistent. That also allows for the address to be listed as “Birmingham,” while having the luxury of being in beautiful Shelby County. This also accommodates parking, as with there being nothing but wilderness around, parking and shuttle can be as expansive and safe as possible.

The stadium has to be a jewel. World-class facilities. You get a couple of huge high school matchups (possibly the state title game), maybe a small college bowl and see about scheduling a NFL preseason exhibition to test the waters. With a retractable roof, the opportunity to expand how great a hockey base we have grows greatly.

Now, I’m not saying go out and try to land an NFL team, and I’m not sure how to fund the construction. But with the USFL supposedly making a comeback, who’s to say Birmingham and Shelby County couldn’t get a team? I guarantee placing it here would do wonders for attendance.

And maybe, lead to something more.