Football remains king in Alabama, but where does soccer fit in?

In Alabama, there is little doubt that football is king. The Crimson Tide and the Tigers dominate Saturday fall rituals, and Friday Night Lights shine bright on football fields from the Tennessee Valley to the Gulf Coast.

But that’s not stopping a public push to build newer and bigger venues for other sports, particularly soccer. And in Mobile County Friday, a celebration will be held commencing the construction of a long-awaited soccer complex that some believe will add a much-needed injection of sports tourism into a city starving for more playing fields.

“We have a 30-field deficit from a study that was done two to three years ago,” said Mobile County Commissioner Connie Hudson, the biggest public advocate for the new fields. “It’s amazing to me how much the sport has grown in spite of the fact that we don’t have adequate facilities in Mobile County. It’s sad for us because, oftentimes, when there are tournaments involving Mobile teams and Mobile is hosting, it has to be held outside of Mobile.”

The 10 a.m. groundbreaking will take place at the 60-acre, $4 million complex’s site near the intersection of Halls Mill Road and Lee’s Lane in west Mobile.

The project’s first phase includes creating two tournament-quality fields, two-seeded practice fields, irrigation and sewer, lighting and parking, and an entrance road. Future phases call for 10 fields that are a lighted and equipped for tournament play. And a championship-style field will be built with bleachers and concession/restroom buildings.

“Citizens and soccer enthusiasts have been anticipating this complex for a very long time and I am delighted that construction will now begin,” said Hudson.