MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG ) — For decades, Mobile has hosted football games at Ladd-Peebles Stadium featuring Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It’s now known as the Gulf Coast Challenge, and for the first time, thanks to Covid, the game will be played in the spring and will feature an HBCU against an in-state school.
It’s the battle of the Tigers: The University of West Alabama and Savannah State University will go head-to-head right here on Saturday. Organizers are hoping to keep this ultimate HBCU experience on the Gulf Coast.
“They are about to transform the whole stadium. We got banners going up. They’re going to paint the field. The end zone will be painted,” said Tim Hale Jr., organizer of the Gulf Coast Challenge.
For Hale, putting on the Gulf Coast Challenge is more than just a fancy college football game. For him, it opened doors with many opportunities.
“Seeing Southern University inside this stadium got me to the point where I said, ‘I got to go to college and I got to go to Southern University,’ and here we are today,” Hale said.
From there, he went on to Southern University, graduated, and came back home to continue the Gulf Coast Challenge for more than 20 years.
“I want the kids to see that going to an HBCU is beautiful. The heritage, the cultures, the traditions, it’s amazing,” Hale said.
Putting on an event like this takes a lot of manpower, bringing in millions of dollars to the city. But with the pandemic still hovering over our nation, the Gulf Coast Challenge has seen its challenging days.
“This was a process. It was a hard process even coming through a pandemic. No one was prepared for this, but I feel if you put your mind to it, you work hard enough and you build the right relationships and the Gulf Coast will show you that with those opportunities we’re going to be successful,” Hale said.
This year, the stadium will look slightly different. No massive crowds in the stadium and only about 7,000 people will be able to attend. Seats will be taped off at least six feet apart. You will be required to wear a mask, and for obvious reasons — no tailgating.
“This year, it’ll be different, and people are just starting to come out of the houses, but I really do anticipate a nice crowd,” Hale said.
Hale told WKRG News 5’s Amber Grigley because of the pandemic impacting many, they dropped ticket prices down to $15. Both West Alabama and Savannah State will not be bringing their bands due to NCAA Covid regulations, but Talladega College Marching Band will be bringing the heat during halftime.
To purchase tickets and for more information, click here.