BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Magic City Classic normally means thousands of packed fans, food, parties and tailgating at Legion Field. But, with new COVID -19 restrictions, visitors are finding capacity limits and no tailgating rules.
“Normally this particular time of the day for the Magic City Classic, everything is shut down and it’s wall to wall people everywhere,” Classic Fan Bobby J Pierson said.
“I feel that classic feeling, but not the ambiance, not the people,” Classic Fan Kenneth Dukes said.
The 79th annual game between Alabama State University and Alabama A&M University was pushed back to the spring because of the pandemic and the spring game came with restrictions. Officials limited capacity inside to around 15,000 people. They also canceled the parade, pre- game event, and the half time show.
“You can normally smell barbeque at the Alabama Georgia line on a normal classic, but we still have a few people that are out and have their booths set up, trying to keep that classic spirit alive and well,” Dukes said.
Fans Bobby J Pierson and Kenneth Dukes have been coming to the classic for decades and parking in the same spot. They normally have a large tailgate, but this year, it was just them.
“I thought once about not coming,” Pierson said. “I played in the classic back in 1979 when we whipped those A&M bulldogs. I kicked the field goal. I was the offensive MVP and I’m getting old. I don’t know how many more classics I’m going to be around for, so I thought I would come up and enjoy this one.”
Dukes and Pierson said they are glad the city held the game, even with the pandemic changes.
“There is no other place to be,” Dukes said. “We couldn’t have the ambience, but the Magic City Classic has a lot more to it than football.”
“Even though it’s not the last Saturday in October, it is still the Magic City Classic,” Pierson said. “I don’t care what you say, where you go, or how you flip it, smack it or rub it down. All you have to do is say “classic” and I don’t care where you standing in Alabama, people will say ‘hey that’s that ball game between Alabama State University and A&M University.”
While some fans got away with small tailgates, Birmingham Police officials said they will be monitoring the area for tailgates and large parties.