Photo | Lyndon George / LG Photography

The Mobile Sports Authority’s Gulf Coast Challenge attracted more than 23,000 fans (including visitors from 19 states) to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in September 2018.


Sports tourism can bring fans to Mobile County who might not have come here for any other reasons. It is the job of the Mobile Sports Authority (MSA) to promote such events, which can lead to people coming here, staying in motels and spending money.

The MSA has managed to reach its goal once again. According to a report on the most recent fiscal year, the non-profit sports commission attracted, supported and/or hosted a total of 29 sports events generating an estimated $22,467,000 in the Mobile area economy.

“With the tremendous support of the Mobile County Commission, the Mayor and City Council of Mobile, and a very engaged board of trustees, we at the Mobile Sports Authority are proud that we were able to generate such a significant impact for the Mobile area economy,” said Danny Corte, executive director of MSA.

MSA was involved with 22 different sports from all age brackets.  Among the events was everything from cross country runs and gymnastics to volleyball, basketball and football. The full list can be found at MobileSportsAuthority.com.

 Of those 29 events, 17 were either taking place for the first or second time. This includes the one making the largest economic impact — the inaugural Gulf Coast Challenge.

The football game between Southern University and Alabama A&M attracted more than 23,000 fans (including visitors from 19 states) to Ladd-Peebles Stadium in September 2018. Along with the contest, various events took place during the week including a college fair for high school students, concerts, alumni and team luncheons, a traditional Mardi Gras-style parade and game-day tailgating. MSA worked with Green Coast Boys Entertainment to promote the schedule.

The weeklong occasion generated an estimated economic impact of $6,615,776 to the Mobile area. This makes the Gulf Coast Challenge the most economically impactful event ever hosted by the MSA, or by its predecessor organization, the Mobile Area Sports Commission, dating to 1998.

The MSA Economic Impact Formula measures the number of visitors, times the number of nights stayed, times $208 per day to get a direct spending figure. That number is then doubled (a regional multiplier) to get the total economic impact for the area. The $208 figure comes from a 2012 study by the University of Arizona on what visitors spend on average during various amateur sports events. It is estimated that “day trippers” spend an average of $40 per person per day.

Corte said the fiscal year numbers represent one of the better years for MSA or the Mobile Area Sports Commission. During the last three fiscal years (2016-2018), the MSA has averaged about 31 events per year. This is an approximate 30 percent increase in numbers over the three previous years (2013-2015).

“Since Fiscal 2012, the MSA has attracted, hosted, managed or co-managed 189 sporting events which have generated an estimated $131 million in economic impact for Mobile County,” Corte said. “The future continues to look bright as we’re constantly engaging sports event owners about coming to play in our beautiful area.”

Other major events managed or supported by MSA from Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018, that hit the $1 million mark include:

• The 5th Quarter Classic football game between Tuskegee and Jackson State; Oct. 13-14, 2017; second annual; had 3,000 visitors for two-night stay, 3,500 visitors for one-night stay and 2,000 day trippers; impact of $4,112,000.

• USA Gymnastics AL Optional & XCEL Championship Meet; March 16-18, 2018; second annual; had 2,066 visitors for two-night stay and 300 day trippers; impact of $1,742,912.

• USA Volleyball Gulf Coast Region Championships; April 13-15, 2018; fourth annual; had 1,963 visitors for two-night stay and 333 day trippers; had 121 teams compete; impact of $1,713,136.

• Mobile Challenge of Champions track & field competition; April 6-7, 2018; 26th annual; had 1,500 visitors for two-night stay and 828 for one-night stay; had 149 schools from 11 states with 2,178 competitors; impact of $1,592,448.

• Servis 1st Bank First Light Marathon; Jan. 13-14, 2018; 17th annual; had 2,000 competitors from 37 states and nine foreign countries; 1,300 visitors for two-night stay; impact of $1,081,600.


Sports shorts

• Three University of South Alabama football players — offensive lineman Brian Ankerson of Theodore, offensive lineman Rowan Godwin and kicker Gavin Patterson — have been named to the 2018 Google Cloud Academic All-District Football Team. This marks the first time the Jaguars have had three or more individuals earn academic all-district recognition in the same football season.

The district includes the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. To be eligible for consideration for honors individuals must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 or higher, be a starter or important reserve and must have sophomore status both academically and athletically.  The three have all been moved forward to the national ballot, with the Google Cloud NCAA Division I Academic All-America team to be released on Dec. 10.

• The University of Mobile had several volleyball players honored by the Southern States Athletic Conference. On the first-team unit for a second time was junior outside hitter Mirella Gatterdam, who was also named to the SSAC all-tournament list. Joining her on the first-team were junior middle blocker Samantha Nichols and freshman setter Victoria Songe. On the second-team unit was junior libero Avery Wasdin, while middle blocker Rachel Hart and Songe were on the all-freshman squad. Outside hitter Chloe Wentland was named to the Champions of Character Team.

• University of South Alabama volleyball middle blocker Kelley Hartman has been named to the Sun Belt Conference’s second-team unit. She finished the regular season ranked sixth in the SBC in service aces per set (0.30), and ranked seventh in blocks per set (1.02) in conference matches.

Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Harris has been named Google Cloud First-Team Academic All-District. An arts & sciences major who boasts a 4.00 GPA, she was one of eight NCAA Division I student-athletes voted to the team in District 4, which covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Puerto Rico.

• USA sophomore Siti Shaari was voted the SBC Women’s Golf Athlete of the Week. She averaged 73.33 strokes per round, recorded a career-low 18-hole score and a season-low three-round total and earned a second-place finish over two tournaments in the reporting period.