Park Board votes against vendor expansion for Magic City Classic

Following a lively exchange at Wednesday’s Birmingham Park Board meeting, the body voted 3–2 to approve a recommendation of the Legion Field Committee, which was to deny a proposal for additional vendor space at Legion Field.

Board members William Parker and Montal Morton were the two dissenting votes. The committee voted 2–1 on July 3 against the recommendation to expand the vendor space.

During the meeting, Councilor Parker presented images of where the proposed vendor area would have been located, on a lot that currently accounts for 243 parking spaces.

“This is all about improving the fan experience,” Parker said. “There were 93 cars parked on that lot last year when it rained. We lost revenue because of that. We lost about $3,000. Do we want to take that chance and lose revenue when it rains? It’s about finding that balance between the tailgate experience and the parking for the event while adding revenue.”

During the meeting, the Bruno Event Team presented their proposal to rent the parking spaces — for $20 a piece — as a way to make the area available to vendors. The added revenue from the additional vendors, which according to Parker would be around $80,000, would then be split between both Alabama A&M and Alabama State Universities.

Board member and former Mayor Bernard Kincaid, said taking away a major parking area would be detrimental to the Magic City Classic’s attendance and fan experience. “A major place where people would catch a shuttle to Legion Field is where the CrossPlex is now and the parking is much more limited,” Kincaid said. “Taking 243 parking spaces from the citizens, when we’ve already received complaints from people about lack of parking, to me that is moving in the wrong direction.”

Kincaid, who made the motion to approve the recommendation of the Legion Field Committee, said in the past the board has been responsive to both the public and the parties involved with the Magic City Classic.

“Clearly the Park Board’s vote today is out of line with the city’s vision for the Magic City Classic,” Parker said. “I plan on briefing the Council about this and we will discuss what the next steps will be.”