Alabama spotlights its sports heritage in 2008 tourism campaign


Alabama’s tourism department has designated 2008 “The Year of Alabama Sports” and plans to spotlight the state’s athletic heritage and attractions to draw visitors.

Birmingham ad agency Luckie & Co. will produce commercials highlighting the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, sports museums and Alabama Speedweek in Talladega and air the spots in about 60 television markets during the Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament in Atlanta. The $2 million campaign will feature native sports legends, museums and athletic events to lure tourists to the state.

The state hopes to boost attendance at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, the Paul Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at the Talladega Superspeedway. Lesser-known destinations such as Birmingham’s Rickwood Field, the Jesse Owens Museum and Park in Lawrence County and the U.S. Sports Academy in Daphne will also be promoted.

Also making the cut: College football’s post-season Senior Bowl and GMAC bowl games in Mobile, the Papa John’s game in Birmingham and the state’s minor league baseball teams.

“No other state can match the number of great sports legends from this state,” Gov. Bob Riley said in a news release.

Among ESPN’s top 15 athletes of the 20th century, five were from Alabama: Jesse Owens, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Joe Louis and Carl Lewis.