Fans are concerned about the future of Alabama’s Magic City Classic

Alabama A&M coach Connell Maynor said it doesn’t matter to him where the Magic City Classic is played.

“My job is to prepare my team, perform well and win football,” he said. “If it’s at (Legion Field) or if it’s at the new stadium … I just have to get us ready.

As kickoff approaches for the McDonald’s Magic City Classic presented by Coca-Cola, the question on many lips is: Will the annual football game between Alabama State and Alabama A&M remain at Birmingham’s historic Legion Field or could it move to a new one? A protective stadium at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex?

“People who have been coming to the Classic for the last 20, 30 years want to keep it at Legion Field,” Maynor said. “I don’t know what (the city of Birmingham and university officials) are going to do. It’s not my decision. I have to be ready to play if they play in Legia or if they go to a new stadium.”

Alabama State President Quinton T. Ross said at a press conference Wednesday that the future of the Magic City Classic is “in all of our hands.”

“As time goes on, we’ll see where we are,” he said. “The city is a great place, 81 years. I think everyone’s intention is for the Classic to still be here.”

Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims said, “I agree with President Ross. It’s in our hands.”

When pressed on the status of negotiations, Wims said: “It’s still open. It’s still open.”

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the Magic City Classic is more than 60 minutes of football, more than a marching band halftime performance and more than Saturday’s annual parade.

“It’s an honor,” he said. “This is family. The city of Birmingham stands side by side with these two institutions of the state of Alabama and Alabama A&M. Looking forward to another 81 years in the making (this event).

Alabama A&M leads the Classic series 41-34-4. The Bulldogs have won the last four Magic City Classics, including twice in 2021.

But Maynor said there’s no chance his team will be overconfident going into Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. game on ESPN Plus.

“We have a saying: Respect all, fear none,” he said. “We play one game after another. We don’t live from last week. We don’t live from last year. We have to prepare for the game this week, prepare, prepare and then study our opponents to be ready to go.”

Across the field from Maynor on Saturday will be first-year Alabama coach Eddie Robinson Jr., who went 3-1 when he was the Hornets’ star linebacker.

Being 1-0 after his first time coaching this game will come down to finding a level of normalcy, Robinson said.

“You have to approach it like another week,” the Bama State coach said. “I don’t think you’ve been training any extra long.” You come up with your game plan and you come up with your routine. I think once the kids focus on a winning routine, you set the standard for what we do week in and week out to prepare and then just go out there and play and have fun.”

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