Alabama, Auburn games at Legacy Arena a huge economic driver for the Magic City

Both BJCC and city leaders excited the two teams will draw big crowds
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 8:06 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 8:09 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Your team could soon be tipping off right here in the Magic City. Both Auburn and Alabama will be competing inside Legacy Arena come Thursday.

BJCC and city leaders are stoked by the team assignments. BJCC Executive Director Tad Snider says this is the result of a lot of hard work, and that their renovations to Legacy Arena have allowed March Madness to return to the Magic City for the first time since 2008.

“It is here now, it is real. We got a great bracket. Two number one seeds in Alabama and Houston, both Alabama and Auburn playing at home, in Alabama, you couldn’t ask for more,” said Snider.

Resell ticket prices are soaring now that both the Tide and Tigers are set to play here. Still Snider says the event was already selling well.

“These tickets have been on sale for a while, about six months. They were pretty much gone before the announcements. So now it is everyone trying to figure out, ‘okay how can I work what I can last minute if I don’t already have a ticket’.”

While you’re working on finding a ticket, the crews are already hard at work inside.

“Things now are going in to place. So tv crews start to move in. Floors going, everyone is getting ready because we will have practice Wednesday. So right now there is a lot of thrashing going on getting the pieces in place.”

Snider expects thousands to visit the Magic City specifically for March Madness.

“It is probably not one of our more profitable events but it is one of our more important ones for the city.”

Birmingham’s Innovation and Economic Opportunity Director Cornell Wesley called this a seismic event. He believes the population will grow by a minimum of 30,000 for the opening sessions.

He pointed to the fact that many of those coming to watch will stay in the city. They will consume hot dogs and brisket, spending their hard earned money in the Magic City, with the city benefitting from the additional tax revenue.

“For a point of reference think about the city of Milwaukee who hosted this previously. They had approximately a $6.5 million impact. 5,000 to 6,000 hotel nights and they did that without Alabama and Auburn being in their state. This is Birmingham, they will be home teams... I anticipate double the amount and double the impact,” said Director Wesley. They had $6.5 million in economic impact in Milwaukee. I think we are going to surpass that.”

He says other events in the city will even spotlight the tournament in an effort to draw a larger crowd. That includes the HBCU Spring coming event this weekend.

“Right in front of City Hall at Linn Park from 12 to 6 we will be live streaming the games that will be shown during that time. We will also have a live DJ who will essentially DJ the game as it is on. So to all of our citizens and to all of the travelers who are coming in to the city, if you can’t get a ticket, you can come to Linn Park,” said Wesley.

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