BIRMINGHAM, ALA. — The greater Birmingham area has long been keen on hosting sporting events. Youth sports drove needed revenue during the COVID pandemic and continues to be a strong factor in Birmingham’s booked events. Bookings now, though, are of a greater magnitude, testing and proving the capabilities of this sports loving Southern city.
After much speculation and negotiation, it was formally announced in January that Birmingham will host 40 USFL regular and postseason games this year. The league’s eight teams will play the majority of the games at the city’s new Protective Stadium, with a few at historic Legion Field. The National Spring Football League and the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, which includes Protective Stadium, reached an initial agreement last fall. The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Birmingham City Council, and the Jefferson County Commission stepped up with commitments to cover costs associated with the season. CVB officials expect the league will use more than 40,000 hotel room nights to house players, coaches, and league officials between April and July.
Hot on the heels of the USFL season, The World Games 2022 comes to the greater Birmingham area. Set for July 7-17, The World Games is an international competitive event for 3,600 of the world’s best athletes. Competitors from more than 100 countries will be in Birmingham to vie for the gold in artistic sports, martial arts, and strength sports. Spectators will see sports they may never have experienced and those they know and love.
Among the anticipated sports competitions will be sumo, archery, bodybuilding, gymnastics, climbing sports, and many more. Games officials expect around 100,000 spectators to attend during the 11 days of competition. More than 600 medals will be awarded to athletes, including 200 gold medals to champions in each discipline. Sporting events will be held at venues across the greater Birmingham area, including Oak Mountain State Park, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Barber Motorsports Park, and Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Grand opening and closing ceremonies will take place at Protective Stadium in downtown Birmingham.
“This spring and summer, the Birmingham area will be a major sports destination,” J. John Oros, Jr., president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau, said. “As USFL fans are departing, we’ll be welcoming visitors to a new generation of global sports at The World Games.”
Adding to Birmingham’s impressive sports resume is the annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. With competition at the world-famous Barber Motorsports Park, this Indy Series race plays out on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course. The only Indy competition in the Deep South, this three-day event features the same cars and drivers as the Indy 500. The park has hosted the race since 2010.
“First time visitors to Barber Motorsports Park are amazed by the layout of the track and the spectator-friendly banks of natural seating around the park,” Oros said. “It really must be seen to understand the superior quality of this renowned facility.”
Birmingham’s sports resume continues to grow with the decision by officials of the World Police and Fire Games to hold the event in Birmingham in 2025. This biennial international sporting event celebrates the service and competitiveness of first responders around the world. More than 10,000 first responders are expected to compete in 55 disciplines including cycling, angling, cross fit, Ultimate Firefighter, and Toughest Competitor Alive.
Though highly competitive, this is friendly competition with camaraderie among the participants. The event is set for June 27 through July 6 of 2025. The economic impact is expected to be about $75 million with 150,000 athletes, supporters, and spectators.
“With The World Games 2022 and the 2025 World Police and Fire Games, Birmingham will host two of the top international amateur sports events in a four-year period, further establishing our area as an international sports destination,” Oros said.