The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


June 10, 2013

Once dying, Birmingham is suddenly hot


After 25 years in a concrete-and-steel park in the city's southern suburbs, the Birmingham Barons this spring moved back downtown into a new, $65 million stadium that offers views of the city's financial and medical centers. Critics said people wouldn't visit an urban park for fear of crime and blight, but they were wrong.

The Barons already have had three sellouts at the 8,500-seat Regions Field — the most since NBA star Michael Jordan played with the Barons in suburban Hoover in 1994 — and the average attendance so far is 5,528 fans a game compared to 3,004 all last year.

New housing developments are planned near the stadium, plus shopping. Team spokesman Nick Dobreff said the club is happy to be part of the new Birmingham.

"Things are moving in the right direction, and we hope to be a catalyst for more growth," he said.

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