MOBILE (WKRG) – Wednesday’s decision by the Senior Bowl to move the game from Ladd-Peebles Stadium to the under construction Hancock Whitney Stadium at the University of South Alabama happened just days before a petition was to be presented to the Mobile City Council to keep the game at Ladd.
“I’m disappointed, but not surprised,” said Robert Battles who spearheaded the “Save Senior Bowl at Ladd Stadium” drive which began a month ago. He had planned to address the city council on Tuesday.
Battles said he had collected 2,000 signatures, and not just from people who live in Maysville near Ladd-Peebles.
“They were from all over town,” Battles said.
The decision by the Senior Bowl to sign a 10-year contract with USA came without any public input. The Senior Bowl is an autonomous non-profit organization but receives about $300,000 a year in public money from the City of Mobile and Mobile County. County Commissioners and City Council members say they were not advised in advance of the Senior Bowl’s plan to move the game.
The Senior Bowl reports that the decision to move the game after 70 years at Ladd was made by a unanimous vote of the Senior Bowl Board of Trustees. Game officials refused interview requests from News 5 and did not respond to inquiries as to the composition of the board.
Tax filings from 2018, list almost two dozen board members, including Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
Stimpson’s spokesperson George Talbot, however, told News 5 that the mayor “stepped down some time ago to avoid any potential conflict.” He did not clarify exactly when that took place.
According to the Senior Bowl’s website and 2018 tax filing, the Senior Bowl Board of Trustees consists of Angus Cooper II, Curran Foose, Erling Riis III, Robert Baker, Charles Jones, Sylvester Croom, David Brock, and Joe Bullard – all officers with the Mobile Arts and Sports Association, the Senior Bowl’s parent organization – as well as Walter Bell, Greg Leatherbury Jr., T.K. Jackson III, Terry Thompson, Mark Nix, Robert Drew, Jimbo Salem, Clifton Inge Jr., Michael Pierce, Harris Morrisette, David Brock, Alvin Hope, William Seifert, John Arendall, and Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy.