Photo  | Courtesy of Mobile Sports Authority A&M and Southern Field

The inaugural Gulf Coast Challenge contest between Southern University and Alabama A&M netted $6 million for Mobile.

There is no denying that football is a money-making machine in the South. The Mobile Sports Authority (MSA) is well aware of that fact, and the staff does its best to give the fans what they want.


For its most recent Economic Impact Scoreboard covering October 1, 2017 to September 30, 2018, the biggest event was the inaugural Gulf Coast Challenge (GCC). The contest between Southern University and Alabama A&M attracted 23,117 fans to Ladd-Peebles Stadium. The financial impact on the community, according to MSA, was $6,615,776.

Sports Destination Management, a publication with the largest circulation of sports event planners and tournament directors in the sports tourism market, even recognized the contest as a “2018 Champion of Economic Impact in Sports Tourism.”

So there was no discussion when plans were drawn up to produce the second annual GCC. This year’s game will be September 28. It will feature Alabama A&M of the Southwest Athletic Conference against Central State University of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

“College football is a huge event in the South and having the opportunity to host this event for the second year speaks volumes for our area,” Tim Hale, executive director of GCC, said. “Last year’s inaugural Gulf Coast Challenge was a big success and, once again, we anticipate football fans flocking to Mobile to partake in the events of game week.”

The long drive from Huntsville was certainly not a problem for the A&M faithful.

“Last year’s Gulf Coast Challenge was a great experience for our student athletes, alumni and fans,” head football coach Connell Maynor said, “and we’re excited about returning to Mobile for this year’s event.”

Cedric Pearl has served as Central State’s head coach since 2014. His previous 13 seasons were at A&M. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Tuskegee University, where he was a three-time Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference all-star.

“It is an honor to be playing in a high-profile game and competing in my home state of Alabama,” Pearl said.

Kickoff for this clash of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) rivals will be that Saturday at 6 p.m. This will mark the seventh time the Marauders of Wilberforce, Ohio, and the Bulldogs have met. A&M holds a 3-2-1 edge in the series.

“We are very excited to be hosting another HBCU fall football weekend in Mobile,” said Danny Corte, executive director of MSA. “If last year’s Gulf Coast Challenge is any indicator, we expect this event to be one that alumni and fans of both schools will not want to miss. We’re putting together another fun-filled week of events for all to enjoy.”

HBCU football has found a home in Mobile. The second biggest event of the 2018 Fiscal Year was the Fifth Quarter Classic with an impact of $4,112,000. This game—which has since been replaced by GCC—took place in October 2017, so both were included in the MSA counting.

The football game is only one part of the experience. Tailgating will begin the morning of game day. GCC will be preceded by a week of festivities that include a kickoff party in the park, a college and career fair, pep rally and parade. There will also be events for alumni and dignitaries.

More details and ticket information will soon be announced. For additional information, visit or call 251-281-8202.

MSA is a nonprofit sports commission formed in 2008 by the Mobile County Commission. The main 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.

Volunteers needed for crab trap cleanup

The Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD) invites the public to take part in a derelict crab trap cleanup in Mobile Bay this weekend. The derelict traps will be marked on Friday and removed on Saturday.

There will be a post-event social at Meaher State Park in Spanish Fort on Saturday. Interested groups or individuals should contact Jason Herrmann with the MRD at 251-861-2882 or by email at

This event is a coordinated effort between MRD, the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program.

College briefs

Tony-Toni Wright wrapped up his basketball career at the University of Mobile (UM) by being awarded All-American Honorable Mention by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Wright, who played at Davidson High School and Bishop State Community College before joining the Rams, led his team in total rebounds, averaging 7.89 per game, and in scoring, averaging 15.64 points per game; the most on his team.

UM teammate Nikola Rajkovic was honored as an NAIA Daktronics Scholar Athlete. He is the social media coordinator for Good Work Agency, a student-run advertising and marketing group that provides those services to churches, nonprofits and other organizations working for the betterment of society and the church.

The Sun Belt Conference has recognized several basketball players at the University of South Alabama. For the women, sophomore forward Antoinette Lewis has been named to the first-team unit. Sophomore guard Savannah Jones was placed on the second-team list after leading the Jaguars to the tournament finals. For the men, juniors Josh Ajayi and Trhae Mitchell were placed on the second and third teams, respectively.

UM head softball coach Alison Sellers-Cook has earned her 400th win. The Rams started this year 28-4 after claiming 46 wins in the coach’s first season in 2018. The team also reached the Southern States Athletics Conference (SSAC) Championship game and the second round of the NAIA National Championship Tournament. Before her time at UM began, Sellers-Cook had already built a powerhouse program at rival Spring Hill College.

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