The Senior Bowl has always made an impression on local football fans. A new study also suggests it has a major impact on the area’s economy.
A 135-page report concludes the total monetary economic impact from hosting the college all-star game was approximately $27 million in 2015. “This is a conservative number,” according to Christopher M. Keshock, Ph.D., the primary researcher and a University of South Alabama USA professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Leisure Studies.
His research team collected data during game week in January. Only information from out-of-town visitors was used in the final figures, along with jobs and sponsorships created by the contest.
The report said sales tax from the guests was between $637,665 and $722,194 in Mobile. When combined with city, county and state tax, the numbers climb to between $1,735,304 and $1,866,583.
Approximately 35,500 visitors specifically traveled to Mobile for the game, and stayed an average of two or more days. This resulted in more than 20,000 hotel room bookings for the week.
The game, practices and fan events also created opportunities for work. In addition to the 130 jobs generated from Senior Bowl direct spending, the game paid more than $560,000 to full-time, part-time and city employees.
“We are very proud as an organization to release these findings about the Reese’s Senior Bowl and its economic impact on the Mobile area,” Phil Savage, the executive director of the game, said. “To validate the importance of this event to our city, county and state officials through the hard numbers of this academic-related study should only strengthen the financial position of the game in the future.”
The study also mentions the national attention the area received from publicity, media coverage and the game being broadcast on the NFL Network. The group said this amounted to $6,260,120 in anticipated future travel revenue to Mobile each year.
While the game itself draws the most attention, it is only one event overseen by the Senior Bowl staff. During the year, the group hosts Family Fun days, youth football clinics and a middle school football camp, runs an NFL Flag Football League, hosts the Girls of Fall football clinic and this November will host the Wells Fargo Charity Run. The 2016 game will be played Jan. 30 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
“Of course, this study is narrowly focused on the economics of the Reese’s Senior Bowl,” Savage said, “but we are very pleased with our year-long calendar and the football oriented events that connect us in a positive way to the local community.”
Eyes on the prize
Grant Enfinger of Fairhope finished in fifth place at the most recent ARCA Racing Series event in Kentucky. He may not have taken the checkered flag, but it did set him up for a bigger reward.
With a lead of 320 points, Enfinger can secure his first driving championship by entering and competing in the Kansas 98.9 season finale on Oct. 16 regardless of where he may finish. Enfinger currently has 4,620 points thanks to his six wins, 11 Top 5 finishes and 15 Top 10 results.
“We came to Kentucky for a strong finish and as a team we accomplished that,” Enfinger said. “A top-five is exactly what we needed to head into Kansas with. We just need to keep this momentum going.”
The closest driver to Enfinger is John Williams with 4,300 points. Also having an outstanding season is Thomas Praytor of Mobile, who has two Top 10 finishes while compiling 3,520 points.
The Kansas ARCA 98.9 is set to start at 7:30, with live coverage on Fox Sports 1.
SHC looking for new coach
Lisa Mann has resigned her position as the women’s soccer coach at Spring Hill College. Jim Hall, the college’s athletic director, said she left for personal reasons.
Michael Patrick, the assistant athletic director, will serve as head coach on an interim basis. His experience includes serving as director of men’s soccer operations for Oglethorpe University and as a national team scout for the U.S. Soccer Federation.
The Lady Badgers will return home to Library Field to play Mississippi College (Oct. 23 at 1 p.m.), Delta State (Oct. 25 at 1 p.m.) and Tampa (Oct. 29 at 3 p.m.). The Classic on the Hill wraps up the season with games against Southern Wesleyan (Nov. 6 at 1 p.m.) and Palm Beach Atlantic (Nov. 8 at 1 p.m.).
● The fifth annual Dog River Fishing Tournament is set for Saturday, Oct. 24, beginning at 6 a.m. Fish can come from anywhere inshore in Mobile and Baldwin counties. The weigh-in station will be 2-3:30 p.m. at the River Shack. Entry fees are $35 for adults, $20 for youth ages 6 to 15 and free for anglers age 5 and under.
Registration can be completed online at www.DogRiver.org or in person at the Grand Mariner Marina or Southern Bama Bait & Tackle. A captain’s meeting is set for Friday, Oct. 23, 6-9 p.m. at the Grand Mariner Restaurant. Dog River Clearwater Revival is hosting the tourney. Proceeds will go toward the group’s efforts to improve the Dog River’s water quality.
● The second annual Run Forrest Run 5-kilometer race and 1-mile fun run is set for Saturday, Oct. 24. The starting line for the 5k will be at the Fairhope Pier, with the course running through downtown before a downhill finish to the pier. The fun run will take place around the historic “duck pond” on Mobile Bay. An after-race party is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The races will be in conjunction with the fifth annual Best of the Bay Gumbo Championship.
Among the celebrity judges is Jimbo Meador, the inspiration for Winston Groom’s beloved character Forrest Gump. Fairhope Local, a group that promotes the city’s unique character, joins the Eastern Shore Kiwanis Clubs in sponsoring the events. Proceeds will go toward supporting local schools and youth organizations. Registration and entry fees through Oct. 21 are $25 for the run and cook-off, $20 for either the 5k or 1-mile races, or $10 for the cook-off. To register for the run or to enter the gumbo cook-off, visit www.SignMeUp.com.