The legacy and impact of the CM Newton Classic on Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (WIAT) – A packed crowd at Legacy Arena on Saturday for the CM Newton Classic between Alabama and Gonzaga.

“It’s big for the city of Birmingham, big for Alabama, period, so it’s very exciting,” said fan Virgil Ellison.

Ellison told CBS 42 News he thinks other major basketball games could be on the way.

“If we keep having more success and keep going, we can get bigger games here,” Ellison said.

A county leader says renovations to Legacy Arena are helping bring more basketball games to Birmingham.

“Hopefully we’ll have regional playoff games on the road; we are delighted; a great facility, and it’s going to be a great day,” Jefferson County Commissioner Joe Knight said.

“I’ve always said Birmingham is a quiet basketball town, people love it, but they don’t want to say it because of the football,” Martin Newton said. “It’s a huge event for our state and this city, so I’m thrilled it’s here and thrilled we can be a part of it.”

Martin Newton is the son of CM Newton, a former Alabama Crimson Tide basketball coach from 1968 to 1980.

During Coach Newton’s tenure, he won more than 200 games, but his son told CBS 42 that building bridges of diversity and inclusion was most important to him.

“He signed the first black athlete in Alabama, Wendall Hudson,” Newton said. “I think when you look back at his career, the thing he’s most proud of is that he won a lot of basketball games, but I think he was a bridge builder.”

Martin Newton says the CM Newton Classic helps keep building the bridges his father started.

He believes that when everyone works together, everyone can win.

“Basketball is a great game, it’s a sport, it’s fun, but the community relations, the way we treat each other, how we love each other, that’s what I think will come out of it well. more than the score at the end of the day.”

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will take place in March at Legacy Arena.

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