Differences over where to put a proposed soccer complex came to a head Thursday with one Mobile County Commissioner deciding if he can’t get public funding for his project he will look for other sources of money to reach the goal.
Commissioner Jerry Carl said during a planning meeting he would privately raise the $5.5 million needed to construct a 10-to-12-field soccer complex on McDonald Road near Irvington.
Carl said he would raise the money privately in order to take politics out of the equation and help local soccer families.
“I’m not going to allow the soccer community here to be held hostage,” Carl said. “I have plenty of private money and businesses who will put their money up.”
While Carl has had his eyes set on the Irvington site, Commission President Connie Hudson wants locate a complex near the intersection of interstates 10 and 65, across from Hank Aaron Stadium.
Carl is at odds with Hudson and Merceria Ludgood on a vote that will take place Monday to award an engineering contract to Neal-Schaffer Inc. to begin work on Hudson’s proposed site. The first part of the contract gives Neel-Schafer $18,000 to develop a master plan and make a budget for the project.
While it’s unclear how much the rest of the eight-task contract is worth, John Murphy, with Neel-Schaffer did say architectural fees and wetlands studies would be a part of the contract.
Carl estimated the county has already invested $80,000 into the project.
“We’re going to continue moving forward in this direction and we don’t know how much it’ll cost,” Carl said.
Carl believes the entire project will be in excess of $20 million and the county won’t be able to raise the funds for it.
“You’ll never raise the money for this,” Carl told Hudson during the meeting. “$20 million is an off-the-wall number.”
Hudson questioned the $20 million number during the meeting and has said a study conducted by Hargrove Engineers puts the cost of the project close to $12 million without the purchase of land. The project requires 196 acres total, 82 of which will be donated by a developer, Hudson has said in previous interviews.
Carl told Hudson her number didn’t include the widening of roads, or other costs.
While she supports moving forward with work on the site, Commissioner Merceria Ludgood also questioned funding sources for the project.
Hudson said the project would be funded through bond issues, tax incentives and investors.
“Until we have a site it’s hard to sell a product we don’t have yet,” Hudson said. “Worst case scenario we have to bond the whole thing.”
Hudson wished Carl luck on the endeavor.
“I don’t need your luck,” Carl replied.