North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Local Sports

May 29, 2013

Regions Field: They built it... but will you come?

Birmingham Barons work to overcome security jitters at new home

BIRMINGHAM — In the baseball movie “Field of Dreams,” the character played by Kevin Costner hears a voice saying, “If you build it, he will come.”

If Birmingham Barons owner Don Logan and his sons heard such a voice, they aren’t saying. But they did build a field of dreams, right in the middle of downtown. Now the question is: Will they — the fans — come?

So far in the inaugural season of Regions Field, they have come, in great numbers. The naysayers who worried about issues such as security, especially after a teenager was killed at adjacent Railroad Park days before opening night, have so far been wrong.

After a quarter century in the suburbs at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (known in recent years as Regions Park), and decades prior at historic-but-run down Rickwood Field, Logan moved his team into the shiny new facility on April 10, before a capacity crowd — the first sellout for the Barons since Michael Jordan tried his hand at baseball.

The race to get the new park finished in time was pretty much won, though the sound of jackhammers during pre-game festivities could still be heard as workers toiled to apply the finishing touches.

Since then, most of the remainder of the work has been completed, including a new ticket gate on Third Avenue South and a Dreamland Barbecue Shack and a center field bar that opened this week.

Though the Hoover Met was spacious yet bland, it was also tucked away safely in a suburb. Not so with Regions field, which is nestled in an area that still has its share of abandoned parking garages and other closed buildings, and which has a reputation for crime even after Railroad Park opened.

It’s a reputation that Barons general manager Jonathan Nelson knows the team has to overcome.

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