Fan input influenced the United Soccer League’s Division III expansion team to schedule a visit to Mobile, Alabama, following its meetings in Huntsville and Montgomery, and came away impressed with the Gulf Coast city as a potential market for the league.
Mobile is the fourth-largest city in the state and home to the University of South Alabama, Faulkner University, Spring Hill College and University of Mobile, as well as successful Minor League Baseball franchise Mobile BayBears and high-performing amateur soccer club AFC Mobile.
“Home to America’s original Mardi Gras, Mobile displays its eclectic taste throughout its sports, entertainment and business scene,” USL’s DIII Vice President Steven Short said. “Additionally, the Mobile soccer scene continues to grow at the youth, amateur and collegiate levels. Located along the Mobile River and the Mobile Bay, the port city boasts an extensive sports history.
“The city loves to celebrate whether through festivals or sporting events. The league looks forward to continuing to work with the local community on a future professional soccer club and the many celebrations to follow.”
Friday’s Mobile visit was the final stop on the league’s first expansion tour through Alabama. The new third-division league has now met with city officials and local influencers in 18 different cities across the Southeast and Midwest. According to Short, more on-site meetings are already scheduled, with a return to the Midwest and potential site visits out West Coast on the docket.
Fans who want the league to potentially visit their cities can tell it why by making a request. Currently, more than 105 cities have been requested, with South Carolina’s Greenville, Kentucky’s Lexington and Mississippi’s Jackson leading the votes.
"Mobile's a vibrant city, with an economy growing faster than any on the Gulf Coast, with a proud sporting tradition and a diverse community. With a massive youth soccer structure and operational bases for multiple international companies, the potential audience for pro soccer in Mobile is massive."
"Mobile has demonstrated a strong supporter culture for a local team and has shown that lower division soccer has shown that lower division soccer has a place in an expanding and diverse community."
"The ground support for this in Mobile, Alabama, would be phenomenal. Teams have great success with local support."
"Blossoming new club in AFC Mobile, strong/growing soccer fan base, great culture!"
"Because AFC Mobile has started a movement."