Birmingham votes to revoke business license for former Bama team hotel with Bear Bryant Ballroom

Birmingham City Council voted on Tuesday to revoke the business license of a hotel that has seen tough times, but where legendary Alabama football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant has taken his teams over the weekends. One season’s home game ends when he played at Birmingham Legion Field.

The USA Econony Lodge, located at 7941 Crestwood Boulevard, opened in the late 1960s as a Holiday Inn hotel near the Eastwood Mall, then the state’s busiest shopping center. After Bryant’s team stayed at the hotel on Legion Field game days, the hotel commemorated their affiliation by designating a Bear Bryant Ballroom and a Bear Bryant Boardroom.

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In recent years, however, the hotel has become known for frequent police calls for drug overdoses, prostitution, and drug raids.

“It terrorized the neighborhood,” said Hunter Williams, a board member, chairman of the public safety committee, who led an effort to revoke the hotel’s business license after Birmingham Police Department officials said reported that the hotel had been the source of 151 police calls in a six-month period from February 2 to August 8, including several reports of drug trafficking, overdoses, indecent assault, assault, threats with a gun, a woman with a knife and prostitution.

It was the first time the Public Safety Committee had recommended revoking a hotel’s business license, according to Birmingham City Council.

Over a period of one year, the hotel received 255 police calls.

Gary White, who was on Bryant’s football team from 1958, confirmed the connection to the football team in an interview with AL.com.

During the 1972 season, the team stayed at the hotel near the Eastwood Mall on Crestwood Boulevard, the hotel which is now the USA Economy Lodge, he said. An old postcard from 1972 shows it was a Holiday Inn at the time.

In 1972, Alabama played six home games at Legion Field, defeating Duke, Kentucky, Southern Mississippi, LSU and Virginia Tech, then losing to Auburn 17-16 in the Iron Bowl.

Several neighbors who live near the USA Economy Lodge spoke at the Birmingham City Council meeting on Tuesday about the lingering problems at the hotel. “Our neighbors are in imminent danger,” said Olivia Hill, one of the many neighborhood residents who spoke to the council.

Birmingham police said since the last hearing on September 21 there had been more calls to police at the hotel, including reports of domestic violence and drug overdoses.

Lawyer Josh Hornady laid out a plan to continue operating the hotel while planning to renovate it into studios by next year.

“We have an obligation and a duty to protect the public,” said LaTonya Tate, a member of the city council, during the council’s unanimous vote to revoke the business license. “You have a problem that you should have solved a long time ago. “

A vintage postcard shows the Crestwood Boulevard Hotel as it was in 1972. That season, the University of Alabama football team stayed here on weekends when playing Legion. Field.

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