BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The worlds of competitive bass fishing and minor league baseball collided today with the groundbreaking for the new Regions Field in downtown Birmingham. The ballpark will be the new home of the Birmingham Barons, a team owned by B.A.S.S. co-owner Don Logan.
“We’re happy we’ve reached a point where we’re starting construction and will be on line to open for the 2013 season,” Logan said. “Both baseball and fishing are sports where one develops a personal passion. Minor league baseball is about getting kids and families out to do something that will create memories for years to come.
“And it’s the same thing with fishing. We have a passion for fishing, and taking our kids out fishing is creating an experience for them.”
The new Regions Field stadium, which will be built along 1st Ave. South between 14th and 16th streets, should take about 12-14 months to complete, with the official opening scheduled for the start of the Barons’ season in April 2013. The Birmingham Barons date back to 1885 and are affiliated with the Chicago White Sox.
Bassmaster Elite Series pros Randy Howell of Springville, Ala., and Russ Lane of Prattville, Ala., attended the groundbreaking with their families to support the ballpark, which they both agreed should help bring new life to downtown Birmingham.
“I used to play [baseball] in college and some in the minor leagues, so it’s really nice to be here today and support the Barons and Birmingham,” Lane said.
Howell said it will be great, through Logan’s ownership of both the Barons and B.A.S.S., to capture new fans for fishing. He also wants to see the stadium help the growth of the city. “I hope it will revitalize the inner city of Birmingham,” Howell said. “They’ve been working really hard to make it a nice downtown.”
The anglers showed off their casting skills by rigging up a baseball to the end of their lines and seeing how far they could “pitch” the ball. Surprisingly, the ball made it about 60 feet out.
Along with the casting contest, B.A.S.S.’s wrapped Toyota Tundra tournament trucks were out in full force, adding to the spectacle of booths set up by local restaurants and other vendors, blow-up funhouses for children and other activities at Birmingham’s Railroad Park, which will be directly across the street from Regions Field and is part of a comprehensive plan to revitalize the downtown area.
“This is not only good for the city of Birmingham, but it’s good for the entire metropolitan area,” said Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell Sr., speaking to a crowd of several hundred at the groundbreaking ceremonies.
Logan praised city leaders in his speech, noting, “This project would never have happened without the support of Mayor Bell and the city council as it was a very complicated process to work through.
“We always thought having the Barons here would be great for the community,” Logan said. “This whole area is really going to take off.”