“Regions Field has emerged as such a fixture of the city and of downtown in particular, and to me, it represents a lot of the optimism, the excitement for where the city is going, and that’s something we really want to be a part of now and forever.” – Harris Stewart, owner of Trim Tab Brewing Co., to AL.com
There are many markers of spring – the time change, the equinox – but in Birmingham there’s only one that really matters. Spring isn’t officially here until the Barons are, which means spring 2016 begins today, April 12. It’s the season of Thirsty Thursdays, racing tacos, and the occasional kiss cam proposal. Mostly, though, it’s the season where we remember how great it is to be in Birmingham right now.
From the skyline views to the brand new beer garden, Barons games are a celebration of Birmingham. The team has built its brand around “civic pride” the Birmingham Business Journal reported, and that investment has paid big dividends. Their Parkside stadium setup “helped the city rank among the top half of minor league markets by the Sports Business Journal,” according to the BBJ.
Regions Field has become not just a sports venue but a full-on destination. Good People Brewing Company Co-Owner Michael Sellers compared the field’s Birmingham sign to the iconic Hollywood letters, telling news station WVTM that it constantly draws a crowd for pictures.
To visit Regions Field and the Parkside district is to simultaneously inhabit Birmingham’s past and its future. It is to enjoy both simple outdoor pleasures and the exhilarating challenge of this city’s rebirth. So much of what’s good and bad in this city can be told through the baseball lens, and the new Negro Southern League Museum nearby helps honor Birmingham’s complicated history.
Yet, the sheer presence of so much growth around Regions Field is a reminder of all that is possible. Where once the Barons were part of a revitalization outpost, they’re now features of a recognized community. Having America’s pastime return to Birmingham was the experiment that proved the Railroad Park hypothesis: People want to spend time in Birmingham. We have to keep giving them reasons to.