The stadium was designed in 1926 by locally famous architect David O. Whildin, planned to resemble the monumental amphitheaters of Europe. A horseshoe shape with open north end and arcades decorating its exterior never came into full existence, though.
In 1926-1927 only western and eastern sections were built, the latter ones only to half the planned height. This resulted in roughly 20,000 capacity, which was increased largely quite soon. In 1934 lower part of the curved south end was built (25,000) and in 1948 the east side was expanded to match the west one (45,000).
A peculiar expansion came in 1961-1962, when an upper deck was created literally on top of the east stand, increasing capacity by 9,000. The upper deck caused controversy for safety reason and was eventually dismantled altogether (but that came only in 2004).
In 1965 the north end was built, disabling the horseshoe scheme for good. Moreover, it was straight rather than curved. Later the south curve was also demolished, running track removed and the stadium became a fully “rectangular” one. At peak, with the upper deck, it reached over 83,000 capacity, helping it earn the nickname of The Football Capital of the South. It’s also more genially referred to as the Old Gray Lady.
The stadium’s unified shape is broken by expansion of the western press box. The box itself dates back to 1965, but was later expanded to accommodate two small balconies of covered seats. These two modest balconies are provided with access by large spiral ramps in south- and north-western corners.
Almost from the start the building was used for university football, being the home of several teams. Alabama Crimson Tide began their history here in 1927 only to leave in 2003. Auburn Tigers left earlier, in 1991, while the latest long-term tenant is the UAB Blazers, team that will return to the stadium in 2017 after league system changes.
Birmingham, Alabama is hardly as associated with “soccer” as the English one, but among American cities there’s quite a story here. In 1996 the Olympics had part of the soccer/football tournament played here and later both male and female national teams played their home games here, both friendly and competitive.