Since the beginning of recorded history, people have been attracted to athletic events. Whether an avid supporter for a particular squad or just someone who loves a spectacle, spirited contests are always an attraction.

However, the contest on the field is just one half of the equation. Prior to the opening whistle, someone had to plan for the competition to take place.

This is where the Mobile Sports Authority enters the picture. The mission is to create a positive economic and public relations impact for Mobile County, the city of Mobile and the region through attracting, hosting, managing and supporting sporting events.

The nonprofit sports commission has been very successful since it was formed in 2008 by the Mobile County Commission. For the last fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, 2017, the MSA attracted, supported or hosted a total of 30 sports events. The proceedings generated an estimated $17.5 million for local pocketbooks.

“With the tremendous support of Mobile County, the city 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, MSA executive director.

“Since Fiscal 2012, the MSA has attracted, hosted, managed or co-managed 160 sporting events, which have generated an estimated $109 million in economic impact for Mobile County. The future looks just as bright as we continue to tell our story about our beautiful area to numerous regional and national sports-event owners who are looking for places to play.”

The 30 events this past year involved 20 different sports, ranging from running to gymnastics and volleyball to football. Also, 18 of those 30 events were either first- or second-time events conducted in Mobile.

These numbers represent one of the best years ever reported by either MSA or its predecessor organization, the Mobile Area Sports Commission, which dates back to 1998. As a comparison, from 2012 through 2014, the MSA averaged 20-22 events per year. Over the last three fiscal years (2015 through 2017), the organization averaged 30-35 events per year — an approximate 50 percent increase.

The figures are even more impressive considering the absence of the Fifth Quarter Classic football game from this list. The 2017 game was played after September, so it will not be counted until the next fiscal year.

In its debut, the Fifth Quarter Classic was the biggest outing during fiscal 2016. The 19,000 spectators who made it to Ladd-Peebles Stadium produced an estimated economic impact of $6,480,000.

Thanks to that first football game, the best year ever reported by MSA was for fiscal 2016, in which 35 events generated an estimated $25 million.

The economic impact formula used by MSA includes the number of visitors times the number of nights stayed times $208 per day of spending plus the number of visiting daytrippers times $40 per day of spending to come up with “direct spending.” This amount is then doubled (a regional multiplier) to obtain the “total estimated economic impact for area.”

The $40 and $208 figures are based on a survey conducted by the University of Arizona in 2012 on what visitors spend, on average, during various amateur sporting events.

Here is a listing of the largest events (a breakdown for the fiscal year can be found at www.MobileSportsAuthority.com):

• 2017 USA Gymnastics Region 8 (Levels 6, 7 & 8) Championships on April 21-23, 2017, generated an estimated $2,680,704; presented by MSA with Meet Integrity/Planet Gymnastics/VM); second time here; 48 visitors for three-night stay plus 1,650 visitors for two-night average stay plus 3,000 for one-night stay (1,057 gymnasts, 600 coaches, 33 judges, 15 USAG staff and 3,300 spectators);

• Mobile Challenge of Champions on March 31-April 1, 2017, generated an estimated $2,123,680; presented by MSA with Steve Schoenewald/Complete Sports Productions; 25th year of event; 193 schools from seven states; a record 2,602 competitors over two days; 2,000 visitors for two-night average stay plus 1,105 for one-night-stay;

• USA Volleyball Gulf Coast Region Championships on April 7-9, 2017, generated an estimated $1,933,056; presented by MSA with Mobile Storm/USA Volleyball Gulf Coast Region; third time here; 98 teams competed plus 28 Grassroots, up from 86 and 10 in 2016; 78 out-of-town teams (out of 126), up 19 percent from 2016 event; 2,208 visitors for two-night average stay plus 600 daytrippers for two days;

• Alabama Super Spartan Race on Nov. 18-19, 2016, generated an estimated $1,806,192; presented by MSA with the city of Saraland/Visit Mobile; second time here; 3,931 competitors started; 2,733 visiting competitors plus 600 visiting spectators, plus 25 visiting Spartan staff for eight days; Spartan also spent $4,000 locally on event; 1,926 visitors for two-night average (from more than 100 miles away) plus 1,407 daytrippers (less than 100 miles away, but not from Mobile County); competitors/spectators hailed from 45 states and the District of Columbia, along with competitors from Japan, Peru and Sweden;

• Servis1st Bank First Light Marathon on Jan. 7-8, 2017, generated an estimated $1,248,000; presented by the MSA with L’Arche Mobile; 16th annual race; 1,500 visitors for two-night average; 1,981 total competitors; 1,013 competitors plus families from outside the Mobile/Baldwin County areas; visitors hailed from 39 states, District of Columbia and 16 other countries including Australia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zimbabwe; ages ranged from 3 to 80; outdoor temperature at starting time was 22 degrees;

• USA Gymnastics AL Optional & XCEL Championship Meet on March 17-19, 2017, generated an estimated $1,554,240; presented by MSA with Meet Integrity, USA Gymnastics and Visit Mobile; inaugural event; 1,820 visitors for two-night average stay plus 500 day-trippers; 576 gymnasts competed with 80 percent from out of area plus 1,152 visitors; plus 225 coaches, 17 judges and 10 USAG/Meet Integrity staff;

• CYBL USA Southern Showcase Series Basketball Championship on June 16-18, 2017, generated an estimated $1,050,880; presented by MSA with CYBL, Travel Courts and Visit Mobile; second time here; 94 teams competed with 81 being visiting teams from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee; 1,215 visitors for two-night average plus 500 daytrippers; 447 room nights used as reported by Travel Courts.

(Photo | Mobile Sports Authority) The Alabama Super Spartan Race on Nov. 18-19, 2016, attracted 3,931 competitors and generated an estimated $1,806,192, according to the Mobile Sports Authority.