Alabamans are known as avid sports fans, and each region affords opportunities to see premier athletic competitions in any season. Some of the most heated contests take place at the collegiate level, as the schools in the state all field a number of top-notch teams in a variety of sports. Here are some of the other professional-and semi-professional sports in Alabama.
Originally built in 1969, the Talladega Speedway has had great success drawing large crowds of enthusiastic auto racing fans. The course hosts races for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series, and the Automobile Racing Club of America. The 2.66-mile tri-oval course incorporates 33-degree banked north and south turns, and an 18-degree baked turn at the grandstands. Talladega has the capacity for over 143,000 seated guests and thousands more on the 212-acre infield.
Fast and furious, arena football is a sport unlike any other. The Birmingham Steeldogs, members of the arenafootball2 league, bring this high-scoring display of strength and skill before thousands of loyal fans at BJCC Arena. Almost as popular as the Steeldogs themselves is the Showsteelers dance team, which has won afl2's "Dance Team of the Year" award four years in a row.
The Birmingham Barons have been a part of the city's love affair with America's pastime since 1885, when the Barons played in the Southern Leagues during the very first years of baseball. The city has shown strong support for the hometown team ever since. The team began minor-league affiliation with the Chicago White Sox in 1985, and since that time has been graced by future stars such as Frank Thomas, Jack McDowell and Bo Jackson. In 1994 basketball legend Michael Jordan tried his hand at baseball, and his presence on the Barons' roster helped shatter fan attendance records for the club. For most of their history the Barons played at historic Rickwood Field, but in 1988 the team moved to a larger home at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.
In addition to live greyhound racing 52 weeks per year, Victoryland offers a full simulcast schedule of race and sporting events from around the nation. The track holds over 200 simulcast races on Saturday alone. The track is easy to find, located on I-85 between Montgomery and Tuskegee. You must be at least 19 years old to visit Victoryland.
The BayBears arrived in Mobile in 1997, following the construction of Hank Aaron Stadium (named after the Mobile native and baseball's all time home-run leader). A Double A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, the Bay Bears won the Southern League Championship in 1998. The stadium provides up close views all the baseball action, and the grassy hill over the left field wall (known as BayBear Mountain) allows families to enjoy a great picnic baseball style. Two group areas, Gaslight Park and BayBear Beach & Boardwalk, are available outside of the park gates for rental as well.
The Huntsville Havoc hockey team continues to draw in fans every season. Practices held before their first game are often open to the public; so all fans can see the team getting ready. The Havoc play in the Southern Professional Hockey League.
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