The shift from decaying Legion Field to the newly built Protective Stadium has reenergized a program that completely dropped football after 2014, only to have it reinstated two years later after a flurry of protests. The next four seasons saw a program notch two conference titles and build an impressive new stadium in the bustling Uptown district of Birmingham. Gamedays here are building new traditions while integrating everything that makes a college gameday special.
UAB’s athletic program is younger than most of its FBS counterparts. Founded in 1978 with the men’s basketball team, it took some good debate over how the colors and mascot should be illustrative of the university. Eventually, Blazers was selected as it symbolizes the blazing of new trails. Green was selected to represent life, as life sciences are instrumental at UAB. Gold was chosen for prosperity. Looking at the new Prospective Stadium, these two colors truly seem to fit.
The main entrance of Protective Stadium is surrounded by dining, bars, and a variety of nightlife. The location is ideal for a college football Saturday. Amongst the Uptown action, the UAB team arrives pregame through a path of green and gold fans, cheerleaders, and the Marching Blazers playing the UAB fight song. As the team enters the stadium, the band gathers to entertain with a variety of university classics.
Blaze the Dragon, the proud mascot for UAB, struts around jovially interacting with fans and providing photo opportunities. Like many universities, UAB struggled through mascot identity crises before settling on the current version of Blaze. Initially, he was a pink, furry, and nameless dragon. A rooster replaced the unpopular pink fire-breather in the 1980s to be followed by a short lived Viking that reportedly terrified the children. Eventually, the dragon returned, but in a more fitting and less frightening representation.
The mascot is emblematic of some growing pains that UAB will continue to endure as they manage new traditions in a new venue. One thing is for certain, that trail they began blazing in 1978 has become a proud model of endurance and progress.