Photo | Gulf Coast Challenge. LeBarron Seltzer with Gateway Photography
Sports tourism has proven it can have a major impact on the Mobile County economy. It is the mission of the Mobile Sports Authority (MSA) to promote such events, which can lead to people coming to town, staying in hotels and spending money.
According to a report on the most recent fiscal year ending September 30, the nonprofit sports commission attracted, supported and/or hosted a record 40 sporting events that generated an estimated $22.3 million in the local economy. That is up from 29 events the previous year.
“With the tremendous support we’ve received from the Mobile County Commission, Mayor [Sandy] Stimpson, the Mobile City Council and a very sports-oriented board of trustees, we at the Mobile Sports Authority are proud to continue generating such a significant impact for the Mobile area economy,” said Danny Corte, executive director of the MSA.
Twenty-two different sports — involving a wide variety of age brackets — made up the event schedule. The list included cross-country races, gymnastic meets, volleyball, cycling and even a turkey-calling championship. Twenty-one of the events were in Mobile County for the first or second time.
Once again, the Gulf Coast Challenge football game topped the charts. The contest, played on September 28, saw Alabama A&M defeat Central State University 63-20. More than 11,500 fans were at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, which included visitors from 19 states.
Fans and guests enjoyed an event-filled game week that included a college and career fair for local high school students, a concert in Cathedral Square, a team luncheon, a traditional Mardi Gras-style parade and game-day tailgating. With an estimated $3.16 million generated for the Mobile area economy, the second annual Gulf Coast Challenge once again was the most economically impactful event hosted by the MSA.
The 2019 fiscal year numbers represent one of the most successful years reported by either the MSA or its predecessor organization (the Mobile Area Sports Commission, which dates back to 1998). Over the last four fiscal years (2016 – 2019), the MSA has hosted an average of 34 events per year, which represents an approximate 41 percent increase over the previous four years (24 events during 2013 – 2015).
“Since fiscal year 2012, the MSA has attracted, hosted, managed or co-managed 232 sporting events, which have provided an estimated $154 million-plus economic boost for Mobile County,” Corte said. “The future continues to look bright as we’re constantly engaging sports event owners to tell our story about the advantages of coming to play in our beautiful area.”
The MSA Economic Impact Formula multiplies the number of visitors by the number of nights stayed and $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.
The other top-grossing events included the following:
* Alabama Super/Spring Spartan Race – There were 4,596 adults and 335 children taking part in the third annual event; $2,838,048;
* Babe Ruth World Series baseball tournament – Among the 10 teams composed of players 16 to 18 was a squad from China; first time event; $2,172,000;
* USA Volleyball Gulf Coast Region Championships – Fifth annual event attracted 125 teams, including 82 from out of town; $2,035,968;
* Mobile Challenge of Champions – This 27th annual track meet brought in 149 schools and 2,072 competitors; $1,288,768.
(The full report can be found at mobilesportsauthority.com.)
* Mike Jacobs, the University of Mobile’s (UM) athletic director and head baseball coach, passed away December 3 after suffering a heart attack at the baseball field on campus that bears his name. He was 64.
“I have never met a man with more class and dignity on and off a ball field,” said UM President Lonnie Burnett, who first met Jacobs in 1980 when they were both coaching high school baseball. “Not only was he a legendary coach, but he was a spiritual mentor to hundreds of players over the decades of his career.”
Jacobs was named athletic director July 1, leading one of the largest athletic programs in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) with 18 varsity sports and about 425 student-athletes. He founded the university’s baseball program in 1990. A four-year letterman at the University of South Alabama, he was inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018.
Jacobs is survived by his wife, Joy, their two sons, Josh and Jeff, and eight grandchildren.
* University of South Alabama (USA) running back Tra Minter has accepted an invitation to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. The game will take place on Saturday, January 18, at the Rose Bowl on the NFL Network. The senior running back led the Jaguars with 1,057 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He was second on the team with 32 catches for 209 yards. Minter also paced USA in kick returns (30 for 21.2-yard average) and punt returns (41 for 3.4-yard average).
* Jaguar players Brian Ankerson and Nick Mobley have been named to the 2019 Academic All-District Football Team. The honor from the College Sports Information Directors of America marks the second straight for Ankerson, while it was Mobley’s first.
Ankerson — a junior offensive lineman from Theodore — has both the highest assignment and overall grades on the team this season. He has been named to the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner’s List following each of his first three years at South. Mobley — a sophomore linebacker — led the team in total tackles (91) and assists (48). Last season, Mobley was selected to the Sun Belt’s Academic Honor Roll after making the Commissioner’s List in 2017 – 2018.
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 pair has been moved forward to the national ballot, with the NCAA Division I Academic All-America team to be released this month.
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