BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The SWAC is back! The Southwestern Athletic Conference has announced a partnership with the city of Birmingham to bring back its two most prominent championships to the Magic City.
These two championships games, football and basketball, were in Birmingham for 14 years before they took a detour to Texas for a few years. Now the inaugural football championship game was held at Legion Field in 1999 with more than 40,000 people in the stands. But the games mean an economic boost as well, projected to reach into the millions of dollars.
"Hotels, restaurants, rental car agencies, they'll all benefit from bringing people from all over the SWAC conference in for the two championships," says Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Council Gene Hallman.
Hallman says Mayor Randall Woodfin is who to thank for all this. He says Woodfin sat down with council leaders to make the partnership happen. Also a draw are new improvements made to the BJCC, where the basketball tourament will play out, and a possible new football stadium.
"So both events could see new venues in the next three to four years," says Hallman.
Birmingham has certainly proven that we can draw in the crowds. The city hosts the Magic City Classic, the largest HBCU sporting event in the nation. And the house is packed every year.
The deal is for one year. It's believed to be because the Southwestern Athletic Council has an interim president right now and they want to wait for a permanent president before making long-term plans.
The football championship will be held December 1, 2018. The basketball tournament is expected to be held March 13-16, 2019.