Magic Classic Money Queried

MBA students wanting to study a complex business model with lots of moving parts and layers of political intrigue would do well to consider Birmingham’s Magic City Classic.

Last month’s 76th rendition of the football contest, between Alabama A&M and Alabama State, once again generated tourism for the Magic City, football excitement in the heart of the holiday season and an estimated $23 million in economic impact, according to the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.

It also sparked static, in part from police who worked overtime to keep all those visitors safe. One officer, now disciplined, proposed on Facebook that Legion Field should be filled up with cement to prevent the game, which last year was linked to a shooting fatality. Two City Council members also raised questions about whether the city’s investment in the game is going to the right players.

The nonprofit Alabama Sports Council runs the Classic, but event production is handled by Birmingham-based Bruno Event Team, a well-respected outfit that manages many large-scale sports and business events around the Southeast.

The council members had at least two concerns: Whether the colleges themselves are giving away too much of the gate with an outside contractor, and how much of the money filters down to minority businesses in Birmingham.

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Defenders of the status quo note that the schools have seen their payouts double since the Bruno team came on board. The schools are seeing increased political pressure to take back running the event in-house and it’s a football that will likely be kicked back and forth for some time to come.

Text by Dave Helms

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