At 7 o’clock tonight, the Birmingham Barons will take the field for their first game at their new $64 million home, Regions Field, against the Mississippi Braves. Tickets for the inaugural game are sold out for the first time in 20 years. Everything should be ready to go, but there’s a slight problem: construction isn’t finished just yet.
Take a walk through Railroad Park – if you can find a parking spot while navigating through all the closed roads and dead ends, that is – and you’ll see construction workers in abundance. They appear to be working frantically to finish as much as they can before fans take over tomorrow night.
You’ll see they’ve completed the striking Birmingham sign along 14th Street. You’ll also see numerous people in the park trying to get an idea of what the finished product will look like. They’re glancing as they walk by, sometimes even stopping to stare.
The surrounding area still resembles that of a construction site, complete with the dirt cloud still filling the air. It does appear to be nearly finished, though. Bulldozers, trucks, cranes and other construction equipment are still scattered throughout the site, and the majority of it is being used heavily. Much of 1st Avenue South between 14th Street and 18th Street is torn up and in the process of being repaved.
Once open, there will be three entrances to the field: the main entrance at the corner of 14th Street and 1st Avenue South, another at the corner of 3rd Avenue South and 15th Street, and a third entrance across from Railroad Park on 1st Avenue South. The main entrance is the only one that appears welcoming, even with the presence of fences and orange cones blocking access. The Barons’ official Twitter reported recently that the 3rd Avenue South entrance won’t be open this week because of the “continued construction.”
Despite all the work still being done, it looks as if it’s on the edge of being ready. The foliage is in place. The video board is turned on and running advertisements and various video graphics. The playground looks ready to be climbed on. Merchandise will be for sale in the Barons Sports Depot.
But not everything is going to be up and running. Nearby, picnic tables are stacked and waiting to be distributed. The shell of an ice cream shop is visible, but it won’t be open for business. The same was said about the beer garden last week, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be alcohol sales. You’ll be able to get a couple Magic City Dogs and some Dreamland Ribs, among other items.
As of late last week, not all of the seats had been installed. According to a press release from the Barons organization, some tickets were withheld until the number of available seats was confirmed in order to prevent any issues with ticket holders. Barons spokesman Nick Dobreff could not be reached for comment on the current standing of the seating installation.