Birmingham’s Legion Field was announced today as one of the venues for the victory tour of the U.S. Women’s National Team. The winners of the 2015 Women’s World Cup will take on the Australian National Team at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 20 in a game that can be seen nationally on ESPN2.
“Showcasing the world champions right here in Birmingham is exciting for our city,” said Alabama Sports Foundation Chairman Dr. Larry Lemak. “The U.S. women’s final game was the most watched soccer match in American history and we look forward to having an outstanding crowd in September.”
Mayor William Bell said the city has been working hard to bring the soccer match to Birmingham. “Everything is finally coming together,” he said.
Michael Johnson, an attorney with Butler Snow law firm, worked as a FIFA media officer for four World Cups, two FIFA Confederation Cups and several other tournaments. He was head FIFA media officer for the 2003 Women’s World Cup (1998-2010).
Johnson is pleased Birmingham has been tabbed for the victory tour.
“For Birmingham to be chosen as a venue for the U.S. National Team is one more objective recognition of our support for sports other than college football, and would add to the ongoing groundswell of growth and development, as well as civic pride in our city,” Johnson said. “It is also a great way to promote soccer in general and women’s soccer and sports, in particular.”
For Gene Hallman, CEO of the Bruno Event Team and executive director of the Alabama Sports Foundation, the announcement “helps ease the pain that I experienced when I personally turned down a chance for Birmingham to be a part of the 1999 Women’s World Cup here in the U.S. I didn’t think the deal was good enough for Birmingham. I passed on it.”
The American women wound up winning the 1999 championship, capped with Brandi Chastain ripping off her jersey after scoring the deciding penalty kick for the title.
“It was one of the greatest sports stories of all time,” Hallman said. “Every time I see it, I kick myself.”
Pittsburgh, Chattanooga and Detroit were also named as sites for the 10-city victory tour following the Americans’ 5-2 victory over defending champion Japan in the 2015 final. The remaining six match dates, venues and opponents will be announced later.
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 31 and can be purchased online at ussoccer.com, ticketmaster.com or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets can be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets, including Publix and Walmart locations.
No tickets will be sold at Legion Field until the day of the event. Prices will be released this week.
The Women’s National Team has played before at Legion Field. The squad blanked England 6-0 before 12,102 on May 17, 2003, and drew 11,527 for its 5-1 victory over Brazil on April 24, 2004. The U.S. women last played in Birmingham on May 3, 2008, edging Australia 5-4 before 5,000. That was the last appearance by a U.S. National Team since the playing surface at Legion Field changed from natural grass to artificial turf.
Birmingham’s role in hosting major soccer events began in 1996 as Legion Field was one of the venues for soccer for the Atlanta Olympic Games.