Regions Field wrapping up first season in Birmingham

This week marks the last home-stand of the regular season for the Birmingham Barons.

The Barons, called the City of Hoover home for nearly 25 years before moving into the brand-new Regions Field earlier this year.

Many people were skeptical about the move. There were concerns of crime, and the area where the ballpark sits had many wondering what kind of draw the park would see.

The stadium was voted ''Ballpark of the year'' and drew a record Southern League attendance.

Those who believed in the project from the start say the ballpark is only the beginning.{}

"We believe that the City of Birmingham, the community was ready for an urban ballpark," says Don Logan, owner of the Birmingham Barons.

Logan recalls the decision to move the team from Hoover to downtown Birmingham.It is a move he says needed to be made."We believe that there was a whole new market that we could tap into that we couldn't in Hoover. And that is the 150,000 people who work in downtown (Birmingham," Logan explains.Logan considers the first season at the team's new home a success. But there's still more work to be done.

He says the stadium serves as a catalyst for growth"It pulls people in. It comes down on a regular basis. You have events, people know about it, and they're going to be here over and over again," says Logan.David Fleming with REV Birmingham, an economic development organization, couldn't agree more. "When you do catalyst things like a Railroad Park, then you position a baseball park near that, it's going to create a private sector response which we are seeing around the park now as private sector owners are looking to redevelop property," Fleming says.This week, LIV Birmingham announced it will be building a six story apartment building across from Railroad Park and a short walk from Regions Field.Rick Davis with the Birmingham Business Alliance says to expect more announcements like that in the future. "Retail follows rooftops, by rooftops we mean houses, by which we mean people. If you start building lofts and people renting and buying those lofts, that creates the need for other amenities to go along," Davis explains.Mayor William Bell, who was instrumental in bringing Regions Field to Birmingham, says the park serves as a marketing tool for the city. Drawing people from across the state to the downtown area. Bell says, "I get so happy when I meet people at the ballpark who say 'I'm from Walker County,' 'I'm from Blount County,' people who would otherwise not come to the central core of downtown Birmingham. It's starting to build those relationships that we can capitalize on in the future."As for Logan. The goal is simple. "We just want to make sure that this is a place where people want to come, people of all ages. I think if we can do that, we'll be successful," says Logan.