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The Birmingham Stallions have beaten every team in the USFL this season.
But they couldn’t beat Garth Brooks.
The USFL moves from Protective Stadium to Legion Field this weekend, to make way for a sold-out Garth Brooks concert that will be the first in the new stadium. The anticipation for this event has taken over the Uptown area of Birmingham, with a FanFest at UpTown from noon to 6 p.m.
Gates open for the Brooks concert at 5 p.m. Fortunately, Brooks typically doesn’t start his show until everyone – or at least almost everyone – has arrived.
Stallions’ coach Skip Holtz was asked about losing out to the music superstar that is Brooks.
“I’m not competing against Garth Brooks,’’ Holtz said, laughing. “We play at 2 (p.m.), he won’t go on until 7 or 8. I wish I could get some tickets. I’m a huge fan of his.
“But I tell you what: I have a sideline pass for him if he wants to come to our game. And I’m not even asking for backstage passes in return. I’d love to have him there for us.”
Birmingham (7-0) plays the New Orleans Breakers (5-2) at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox.
Sunday at Legion Field, the Michigan Panthers (1-6) go against the Philadelphia Stars (4-3) at 11:00 a.m. on Fox. Then at 3:00 p.m on Peacock, the Houston Gamblers (1-6) play the Tampa Bay Bandits (3-4) to end the night.
The New Jersey Generals defeated the Pittsburgh Maulers, 29-18, last night in a game played at Legion Field.
This is Brooks’ first appearance in Birmingham since June 2015, when he played three shows at the Legacy Arena at the BJCC. Saturday’s show will not only be Protective Stadium’s first concert but it is being billed as his “only” stadium tour performance in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
The country music legend has won a record 22 Academy of Country Music Awards and received a total of 47 overall nominations. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012. Since 1989, Brooks has released 23 records in all, which include 13 studio albums, two live albums, three compilation albums, three Christmas albums, and four box sets, along with 77 singles.
“Garth did a concert at Notre Dame (where Holtz played and where his father, Lou Holtz, was head coach),’’ Skip Holtz said. “He did a press conference to promote it, and sent a driver to pick up my mom and dad, invited them to be with him and spend time with him. He’s really a class act, and there is no question I’m a huge fan.”
For those wanting to see the USFL games, all games this weekend are moving to Legion Field. Most of the teams have practiced at the legendary Birmingham Stadium – the original “Football Capital of the South” – but this will be the first time to play games there.
“This will be a different experience,’’ Holtz said. “It’s not like a true road game, because we’re taking a 10-minute bus ride. But it will be a great experience for everybody because of the history of that stadium.
“I was there as a player when Notre Dame played Alabama and (Irish quarterback) Steve Beuerlein was nailed by (Alabama linebacker) Cornelius Bennett (in a 28-10 Tide victory). That was some environment. And I’ve been back as a coach when I was at East Carolina, and South Florida and Louisiana Tech to play UAB. Some great contests have taken place at the ‘Gray Lady’ (Legion Field’s nickname).”
Meanwhile, across town, some roads near Protective Stadium will be closed to traffic starting at 7 a.m. on Friday and lasting through Saturday night. According to a map on the Protective Stadium website, that includes:
· 12th Avenue North between 22nd and 24th Streets North.
· Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard between 22nd and 24th Streets North.
· 23rd Street North loop near Uptown restaurants to the Ninth Avenue North Alley.
· Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North between the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex and the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel.
· 22nd Street North between Ninth Avenue North and Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd.
· Ninth Avenue North between 19th Street North and 22nd St. North. (Part of the street is open to pedestrian traffic, but not vehicles.)
Expect a Garth Brooks concert to get loud.
In an earlier Brooks concert at LSU Stadium in Baton Rouge this month, LSU had the seismograph ready and around 9:30 CT, when Brooks performed his song “Baton Rouge,” the crowd was so rowdy the song registered as a small earthquake.
It was just the second time the seismograph had detected shaking at Tiger Stadium. In LSU's 1988 game against the No. 4 Auburn Tigers, LSU QB Tommy Hodson helped upset rival Auburn with a fourth-down touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. That also registered on a school seismograph, and the reading was preserved by the Louisiana Geological Society.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email Ray.Melick@1819News.com.
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