BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Usually, days before the Magic City Classic, the city of Birmingham would be packed with visitors, parties breaking out over town and fans would be preparing to tailgate at Legion Field. But the for the Spring game, tailgating was banned along with other restrictions due to the pandemic.
Adhering to state and federal health guidelines, officials put several measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID at the 79th annual Magic City Classic.
“No tailgating. We won’t be having a parade. The bands will not be participating,” William Parker B’ham City Council President said.
Masks, social distancing, and hygiene protocols were also in place as well as limited fans allowed inside the stadium, which has a capacity of 71,000.
“Capacity [for the Spring Magic City Classic] was 17,500,” Parker said.
Not celebrating the largest HBCU football game in the country in traditional fashion, may be hard for some to accept; that’s why the city was prepared to enforce the rules.
Parker said employees had practice enforcing the rules during the previous football season.
“There was no tailgating for the UAB football games for the fall of 2020. So, Park Board personnel are very well equipped to make sure we have a great fan experience, but also make sure that we follow all the CDC protocols,” Parker said.
For the vendors who set up across the street, Parker said the city can only enforce guidelines on Legion Field property.
According to the official event website, the vendors make agreements with the property owners, and not the city.
Birmingham Police sent the following a statement on their plan for public safety:
“Although the dynamics of events and culture surrounding the Magic City Classic may be different, the Birmingham Police Department goal remains the same. That’s the safety of our community members and visitors alike. The Birmingham Police Department operational plan is strictly focused on providing a safe, family-friendly environment for patrons attending the Magic City Classic. This includes combatting crime in and around the grounds of Legion Field. We want to assure travel and traffic is [sic] fluid and drivers adhere to safe practices. This includes assuring those around the legion field area refrain from recreational cruising and driving while under the influence. We understand the Magic City Classic is a time to gather the celebrate the rich heritage of both prestigious HBCU’s, however, due to the pandemic we’ve all had to adjust to combat COVID-19.
We will continue to educate the public of [sic] the latest CDC guidelines and city ordinances. Our efforts are not to over police issues such as gatherings, however, we will address quality of life issues that is a violation of city ordinances and state law. In reference to tailgating, it is not against the law. Therefore violations will be handled by Legion Field staff. The Birmingham Police Department will provide support if problems arise of non-compliance to assure violators are escorted off the premises safely and without incident.”
Parker said he looked forward to a great event and hoped to enjoy the full traditional experience at the 80th annual Magic City Classic in October.