April 19, 2024 9:00am

Can Birmingham be a major league town?

Here's how Magic City leaders feel about Birmingham's big league prospects

Photo of Ty West
Birmingham, AL Correspondent

Birmingham was recently named by the Sports Business Journal as one of the top sports metros in the nation without a team in the big five sports leagues.

But could the Magic City make the leap? That was the topic of this month's Birmingham Power Poll.

Overall, feelings are mixed about whether Birmingham has the economic capacity to support a team, with 40% of respondents saying the Magic City couldn't support a team.

Another 30% said it would depend on the league, which dovetails with what previous economic studies have concluded. Supporting Major League Baseball, for example, with its 162-game schedule and the Atlanta Braves just a short drive away, is a nonstarter.

Power Poll respondents had similar conclusions, with respondents saying Major League Soccer, the NBA and the NFL are the most viable options for Birmingham. It's worth noting that similarly sized Memphis, Oklahoma City and New Orleans are all home to NBA teams.

As for what league respondents would most like to see, the NFL (35%) was the clear winner.

Based on current league dynamics, an expansion to Birmingham in the short term remains unlikely for all five league. Some aren't currently in expansion mode, while others have clear expansion targets already in mind.

Then, there's the elephant, tiger and dragon in the room.

Power Poll respondents identified the dominance of college football as the single-biggest hurdle to Birmingham securing a major league franchise. Securing a big-league team would require a hefty amount of corporate dollars for skyboxes, advertising and more; and many of the state's business titans are already heavily invested in college football.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of the most powerful, influential people in U.S. cities. It is not a scientific survey. But because the people responding to the surveys comprise the leadership structure of their cities, the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those in a position to make change. Power Poll is distinctly nonpartisan.

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