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Fans wonder about 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 getting my team prepared and have a good performance and win the football game,” he said. “If it’s in (Legion Field) or it’s in the new stadium … I’ve just gotta get us prepared.”

There is a question on many lips as kickoff for the McDonald’s Magic City Classic presented by Coca-Cola draws near: Is the annual football game between Alabama State and Alabama A&M universities going to remain at Birmingham’s historic Legion Field or could it move to the new Protective Stadium at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex?

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

Alabama State President Quinton T. Ross said at Wednesday’s press conference that the future of the Magic City Classic is “in all of our hands.”

“As time goes on, we will 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.”

Said Alabama A&M President Daniel K. Wims, “I concur with President Ross. It’s in all of 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 the halftime show of the marching bands and more than Saturday’s annual parade.

“This is homage,” he said. “This is family. The city of Birmingham stands shoulder to shoulder with these two institutions of Alabama State and Alabama A&M. We look forward to the next 81 years continuing to produce (this event).”

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

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

“We’ve got a saying: Respect all, fear none,” he said. “We play one game at a time. We don’t live off last week. We don’t live off last year. We’ve got to get ready to play this week, prepare, get ourselves ready and then study our opponents to be ready to go.”

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

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

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