Alumni and students gathered across the street from the Alumni House on the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s campus to show University of Alabama trustees that they weren’t backing down from their desire for an on campus football stadium for the Blazers.
Rep. Jack Williams along with Snoozy Jones and the voice of UAB sports Gary Sanders addressed the crowd with messages of support and the importance of a stadium for the UAB community.
Williams informed the crowd that a stadium for UAB would not only mean economic opportunity for the city, it would also give students a chance at more normal college experience. He called the Free UAB movement a chance for student’s voices to be heard.
“Years ago, the president of the SGA said on a local radio station that we would fight until hell froze over and then we’ll fight on ice,” he said. “ We’ve got to be prepared to continue to allow our voice to be heard.”
Following the guest speakers, a mix of past and present students filed into the trustee meeting to show their persistence.
Once inside, UAB President Dr. Carol Garrison urged Free UAB supporters to remain respectful during the meeting. They obliged her by only silently holding up signs protesting the stadium decision.
Participants make it clear that this isn’t just about having a place to play football. It’s about UAB’s importance to the trustees.
According to Joseph Baker, President of I Believe in Birmingham, UAB is critical to Alabama’s economic climate and adding a stadium would only increase that importance.
“Putting those things in what is currently kind of a depressed zone in Midtown has the chance to revitalize those areas and redevelop them for potential of living and business. It has the chance to completely transform the look of Birmingham,” he said.
Andrew Vines, student representative for Free UAB, said that equal treatment of UAB from the University of Alabama trustees is far reaching outside of the stadium issue.
“The trustees in here, they are the guys that pull all of the strings as far as funding goes,”
he said. “That’s funding for your major, funding for student life, funding for the Greek system. So really it touches every single part of your school.”
Alum Scott Moran hopes demonstrations by supporters dispels the myth of apathetic fans and students.
“I think the perception is that there is no support and hopefully that will show them that is not the case and there is passion, We care about our university and we’re willing to support it.”