Legacy Arena - Birmingham Squadron
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Legacy Arena 1001 19th Street North Birmingham, AL 35203
Year Opened: 1976 Capacity: 17,654
Establishing A Legacy For Years To Come
Legacy Arena was originally known as the BJCC Coliseum, opening in 1976. The arena reopened in mid-2022 under its new name, after a $123 million renovation. It is a virtually brand-new venue, as it underwent massive changes to its lobby, seating bowl, and electronics package. The new lobby includes a massive glass wall to allow in much more natural light.
The new entrance fronts the corner of 9th Avenue and 19th Street North. The seating bowl has been reconstructed with the installation of 17,654 new seats and a new video board measuring 18’ X 18’ on each of its four sides. Club level and suite seating were added as part of the renovation.
Legacy Arena is a part of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC). In addition to the arena, this complex includes the new Protective Stadium, the Uptown Entertainment District and the BJCC Concert Hall, the BJCC Theatre, and the BJCC Exhibition Hall.
The newest tenant at Legacy Arena is the Birmingham Squadron. The Squadron is the G League affiliate of the New Orleans Pelicans. The team moved to Birmingham in time to play in the 2021-2022 G League season. The Birmingham team derives its name from the fact that a flock of pelicans is known as a “squadron.”
Food & Beverage 4
The Legacy Arena has several concessions stands located along the concourse at the top of the lower seating bowl. They all operate on a cashless basis.
The Anvil Grill, the Bridges Café, and 421 Eats serve the typical arena fare. This includes cheeseburger w/fries ($12), beyond burgers ($15), chicken tenders w/fries ($12), hot dogs ($5), French fries ($5), pretzels ($5), nachos w/cheese ($5), popcorn ($4), candy ($4). These stands sell Coca-Cola brand sodas ($6), Powerade ($6), and bottled water ($5).
Crossroads Chicken Company sells a spicy chicken sandwich ($12) and a chicken tender basket ($12). The Sloss Smokehouse offers a pulled pork sandwich ($11) and BBQ nachos ($11).
Alcoholic beverages are available at three locations. Lady Electra serves cocktails ($13), domestic draft beers ($9), premium draft beers ($10), domestic canned beers ($8), and premium canned beers $10. Wine by the glass is also served for $9. Boxcar Brewhouse and the Steel Town Tap Room offer a revolving set of craft beers from breweries in and around the Birmingham area.
The recent renovations at Legacy Arena have resulted in a nearly brand-new facility. Fans enter the facility from the heavily landscaped entrance plaza. The entrance lobby is several stories high with a wall of all windows to bring light into the facility.
Legacy Arena Lobby, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
The Squadron team store is immediately on your right as you enter the lobby. It carries a wide variety of team merchandise. To get up to the arena and its seating bowl you take a set of escalators. This brings you to the concourse level. The Squadron only utilizes the lower seating level, which means every seat in the arena is close to the court. The concourse is open to the seating bowl, so you can still see the action if you are in line at a concession stand.
The concourses are wide and easy to navigate. The concession stands are spaced out around the concourse and are frequent enough that the service is very quick, and you should not expect much of a wait at the concession stand. The signage is excellent, and you should have no problem finding a seat.
The Squadron has an attractive basketball court, which features blue and red graphics along the baselines and at the midcourt. The center-hung video board features game action, as well as information on upcoming events. It features four screens, so fans can see the information clearly, no matter where their seats are. The electronics package also includes ribbon boards on the facing of the upper-level seats.
Breaks in the action are filled with fan participation games, and the antics of Commander, the Squadron’s pelican mascot.
The area surrounding the Legacy Arena is known as Uptown (www.uptownbham.com). This is a major entertainment district located just north and west of the I-20/I-59 interchange in downtown Birmingham. It includes sports venues. concert halls, bars, and restaurants.
Two restaurants in the nearby Uptown complex to check out our Mugshots Bar and Grill and Eugene’s Hot Chicken. The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is located adjacent to the Legacy Arena. Both the Westin and Sheraton Birmingham are located across the street from the venue.
Access to the Uptown area has been greatly improved through the completion of improvements to the I-20/I-59 interchange and the completion of the City Walk BHAM Pedestrian Park.
The Squadron is slowly building a fanbase in a city that has been defined by a long heritage of football and baseball glory taking place in Birmingham. Basketball is competing with a football history that includes Auburn- Alabama games at Legion Field and Birmingham Barons baseball games going back more than 100 years. Birmingham’s history with basketball includes only the early UAB basketball teams of Gene Bartow.
The team and the G League are working together to reach families and youth that are big fans of the NBA as a core fanbase. It is not unusual to see several youth groups in the crowd on weekends and there is definite evidence that this strategy is working, as attendance has begun to pick up.
The Squadron is also marketing to patrons of the adjoining Uptown dining and entertainment as an early night option (games are at 7 pm). The hope is that couples will attend a game and then walk over to finish their evening at their favorite restaurant or watering hole.
Fans should have no problem getting to and around Legacy Arena, regardless of which direction they are coming from. The arena sits just north and east of the interchange between I-20/I-59 and I-65. Several multi-lane avenues form the perimeter of the facility. The gates open one hour before tipoff, leaving you plenty of time to get to your seats.
Once you arrive at the arena, the access is extremely well laid out. The initial security area for inspecting bags is located well before where the tickets are scanned. Multiple doors are open at the building’s base, and the lines move very quickly. After riding up the escalator, you will see that the concourse is very wide and easy to navigate, Signage is excellent, and you should have no problem finding your seat.
Return on Investment 3
The concession prices at Legacy Arena are in line with most pro franchises but are higher than average for a market like Birmingham. A family of four could spend more than $150 just for food at a Squadron game.
Parking is readily available in and around the Legacy Arena, although it does not have parking of its own. There are more than 10,000 parking spots within a 10-minute walk of the arena. Fans can go to the Waze app and identify parking lots that are convenient for them. The prices can be as high as $35 or could be as low as free in one of the limited parking spaces along the streets near the arena.
All services at the Legacy Arena are provided on a cashless basis.
In 2023 the Legacy Arena will host the first and second rounds of the 2023 Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament. The games will be held on March 16 and 18, 2023. Several events of the 2022 World Games took place at the Legacy Arena in July 2022.
Since reopening after the renovation, the arena has hosted concerts by Kane Brown, Kirk Franklin, Jason Aldean, Greta Van Fleet, and Machine Gun Kelly.
Legacy Arena’s renovation provides the crowning jewel in the redevelopment of the Uptown area of downtown Birmingham. Its’ proximity to the many restaurants and entertainment options in the Uptown District, as well as Protective Stadium, makes it an attractive choice for sports fans. It is no surprise that it has already been booked as one of the regional sites for the NCAA Basketball Tournament.