Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle visits Regions FieldPublished 7:40am Monday, July 1, 2013
BIRMINGHAM- The Huntsville Stars were welcome visitors in Birmingham the last week in June. The first place Barons took four out of five games before near-capacity crowds at Regions Field. The big winner for Stars fans was getting a look at the new Birmingham ballpark. Mayor Tommy Battle and several high-ranking officials in his administration were on hand Friday night to get a first hand look at Regions Field.
Accompanying Battle were Director of Urban Development Shane Davis and Director of Planning Administration Marie Bostick. The group got a guided tour of Regions Field hours before the game and stayed on to pull for the Stars who fell 2-1 in the Friday night game.
On Thursday the Barons recorded their fifth sellout of the season with a crowd of 8,500. They lead the Southern League in attendance at over 220,000 for the season, an average of 5,684 per game.
On the field, the Barons won the Southern League North Division first half of the season. The new stadium, which can be expanded to triple A specifications, has been a big hit among fans.
“The way they positioned it with the backdrop it makes you feel like you’re in a major league stadium. It’s got the urban feel. It’s very walkable. In today’s market people are coming back into the downtown areas,” Shane Davis said.
The classic urban stadium reminds fans of downtown major league stadiums that have opened in the last 20 years in cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego, Baltimore, and Minnesota.
Across the street from Regions Field are a brewpub, a park, and restaurants.
The central location of Regions Field makes it an easy drive from communities north and east of town such as Gardendale, Irondale, Mountain Brook, and Leeds.
Fueled by corporate money the 23 Luxury Suites are a big attraction. Names on the suites read like a who’s who among companies with deep roots in Alabama including banks and law offices, insurance companies, telecoms, construction, food, and beverage companies.
Constructed in roughly a year, Regions Field was financed by a mix of a lodging tax increase and $63 million in bonds secured by BBVA Compass and Citizens Trust Bank.
The field faces southeast with Birmingham Children’s Hospital, UAB, and The Vulcan dominating the view.
For the fans there is a beer garden, picnic area, a batting cage, grassy berm for spreading a blanket, 400 club seats with a 6,000 square foot air-conditioned club lounge serviced by Hop-City brewery, extra-wide concourse that rings the stadium, a 25 x 42 foot video board, children’s play area, and all seats face the baseball diamond for optimum sight lines.
“It feels like it is part of the city rather than a destination location along a major highway,” Davis said. “It’s able to mingle with other parts of the city. They have set prices low enough that this is as cheap as going to a movie. It is all about understanding your market, making sure you have something for everyone, and they have done a great job. We’re very impressed.”
Thursday night is popular among the college age crowd. Thirsty Thursday means all beverages go for two dollars. Four of the team’s five sellouts have been on those nights.
Just over the halfway point in the season, the Barons have surpassed the attendance they drew all last season in Hoover.
The team is encouraging any baseball fans to come to the July 4 game against the Mississippi Braves and stay to watch the fireworks show at Vulcan Park put on by the city. General Admission seats are $7.