A. L. May Stadium - Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Bulldogs
Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
A. L. May Stadium at George Sekul Field 1020 24th St N Birmingham, AL 35203
Year Opened: 1948
Gulf Coast: Where Champions Play
Junior college football is a huge deal in Mississippi. As one of 17 states that currently host JUCO football, Mississippi is one of the stronger pipelines in the country for pumping out junior college players to four-year universities. This is a big reason why Mississippi ranks in the top 5 of players per capita playing in the NFL than any other state.
One of the more storied JUCO programs in the country is Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College – MGCCC is one of 14 schools in the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges (MACCC) for football. Located in the tiny red-light town of Perkinston, aka Perk, the Bulldogs have become a football powerhouse in recent years; since their first year of football in 1926 the Bulldogs have won 16 MACCC titles. In addition, MGCCC has won five NJCAA National Championships (1948, 1971, 1984, 2007, and 2019), and the Bulldogs have made its conference playoffs over 25 times.
MGCCC originally opened as Harrison County Agricultural School in 1911 and began offering junior college classes in 1925, changing its name to Perkinston Junior College. Today the college has four campuses throughout the Gulf Coast with a total enrollment of 8,700 students, making it the second-largest junior college in the state.
Food & Beverage 2
You can find one concession stand open on the home side of the stadium. The usual items are sold here, although they do cook the burgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill, which is always a plus. The concessions line does back up from time to time, especially during halftime. The one downside is if you sit on the away side you will have to walk all the way around to the other side just to get something to eat. Also, there are no restaurants in Perk so your only option for food is at the stadium.
As soon as you arrive you will realize that game day in Perk is the only show in town. The whole town is the entire campus, so when there are athletic events on campus it is the only form of entertainment in the city. The Bulldogs play on the north side of campus at Historic A. L. May Stadium at George Sekul Field – the venue currently holds 5,000 seats and was opened in 1949 as Perkinston Stadium.
The field faces east and west with the home bleachers on the north side and the end zones open. The entire stadium is metal bleachers except for the couple hundred chairback seats near the 50-yard line.
The stadium has received several upgrades over the years, the most recent addition in 2016 with the opening of the King Center, a state-of-the-art, three-story brick structure that was built into the north side bleachers. The King Center provides athletic offices and team locker rooms and is one of the finest facilities in the MGCCC. There is also a season ticket holder and Bulldog Club lounge area on the top floor of the King Center overlooking the field. The college also upgraded its home concourse in 2016.
As soon as you walk up to the facility you are greeted by different murals of past players and national championship moments. You can tell just by walking around the concourse that the school takes great pride in its achievements; blue and gold color schemes and murals everywhere you look. A small team store is also on this side of the concourse selling a few t-shirts, but you cannot walk into the store – you have to order your items at the window.
Once in the stadium, you are greeted by about 25 rows of metal bleachers on both the home and away sides. The stadium has about 5,000 seats, with about the same number on both the home and away sides. Behind the end zone on the west side you can find various tents with a few people tailgating, as well as student organizations set up, while behind the east end zone, a huge videoboard sits in the southeast corner providing live video and replays. The video board was installed in 2016 when the King Center was built.
The backdrop of the stadium is a few campus buildings, but off in the distance, you can see miles and miles of woods. If you go to the top of the stadium you can get a good view of the pine forests that make up so much of Stone County, which makes for a great view especially when the sun is going down.
There's not much to see here – this area's thousands of acres of undeveloped pine forests made it ideal for the lumber and timber industry, and at one time this area was filled with hundreds of sawmills. Perk was built right on the railroad and was an important stop for the transportation of goods to the coast. When the mills depleted their resources and used up most of the timber, however, the mills shut down and people vacated the little communities along the railroad, Perk included.
Today there is nothing in Perk besides the campus; abandoned homes and an abandoned general store line the main thoroughfare along the railroad as you approach the campus. It is a ghost town now around campus, except for an elementary school and post office that are located on campus.
Fortunately, with much of the land under protection now, this has led to many outdoor activities around the area. Perk is located inside DeSoto National Forrest, and the forest offers many hiking trails nearby, the most popular one being Tuxachanie National Hiking Trail a few miles south of campus. This trail is 13 miles along an abandoned railroad, which once served as a sawmill. Also nearby is the POW Recreation Area, a campground located on the grounds of an abandoned World War II bunker and barracks.
Across the street from campus is perhaps the most famous spot in Perk called Perk Beach – an RV park located on the Black Creek makes for a great swimming hole, and you will find many students out here on the weekends going off the rope swing and floating on the river.
About 15 minutes up the road is Wiggins where you can find a few fast-food restaurants and chain stores. There isn't much to do in Wiggins, though, so don't expect too much. Wiggins does have Flint Creek Water Park, a popular camping area right on a lake, and Paul B. Johnson State Park is located nearby as well. Further up the road, you have Camp Shelby Army Base, which has a pretty cool Armed Forces Museum.
For hotels, you'll find a few smaller chain hotels in Wiggins as well, but Hattiesburg and Gulfport are your most likely bets for any big hotels or if you want to do any shopping. Both cities are about 45 minutes away, with Perk located right in the middle of the two.
Mississippians love college football, and Thursday nights in Perk are no exception. You'll find fans tailgating throughout campus before the game, including behind the end zone. Former Head Coach Steve Campbell established a passionate fan base during the ten years he was here – when he took over the program in 2004 the Bulldogs had had only three winning seasons in the past 15 years. Campbell later moved on to Central Arkansas and South Alabama, but he helped establish a winning tradition that carried over to his son Steve Campbell Jr., who is the current Athletic Director.
Now, after winning two national championships in the past 15 years and being a national powerhouse year in and year out, there is a passionate fanbase at MGCCC. In the stadium, Bulldog fans pack out A.L. May Stadium, so much so that almost every game is a sellout or close to a sellout. Many of the hardcore MGCCC fans and Bulldog Club members can be seen sitting in the chairbacks on the 50-yard line and in the lounge area at the top of the King Center.
Perk is located halfway between Hattiesburg and the coast, conveniently located right off Highway 49, the main road from the coast to Jackson. Perk is about 40 minutes north of Gulfport and 40 minutes south of Hattiesburg. You can't help but see the campus as you drive on Highway 49, with A.L. May Stadium located in the back of the campus attached to MGCCC’s baseball field. There is plenty of parking around the stadium so you should have no problem finding a spot.
Once inside, the concourse can back up at the concessions stand, especially during halftime. The bookstore line and the concessions line also often intersect each other which can be confusing.
Return on Investment 3
General admission tickets cost $10, and you can sit anywhere you want in the grandstand, except for the chairbacks which are reserved for season ticket holders and Bulldog Club members. With the cheap concessions and free parking, I consider this a great return on investment; for $10 you get to see some of the best JUCO football players in the Country. The MACCC can be considered the SEC of junior college football, as the conference has accounted for 17 NJCAA national titles since 1948.
Make sure you get your tickets in advance though – when rivals East Mississippi or Pearl River come to town, expect a sellout. You also know you are getting an exciting game at every contest you are at; the 2009 East Mississippi vs. MGCCC game set the record for the most combined points ever scored in a JUCO game, at 146 points, as the Bulldogs lost 75-71.
As one of the top JUCO programs in the country, MGCCC has had a ton of talent go on to four-year schools and the NFL. Since 2006 over 150 players have gone to play at FBS schools, and over 30 players have played in the NFL or CFL, including three players currently playing in the NFL as of the 2023 season.
MGCCC also has one player in the NJCAA Football Hall of Fame; DT Terrance Cody, who played for the 2006-2007 team and later played for Alabama. MGCCC also has 3 coaches enshrined in the NJCAA Hall of Fame – George Sekul, J.C. Arban, and Steve Campbell. Sekul coached the Bulldogs from 1966-1991, and his 204 wins during that period rank highest all-time among Mississippi JUCO coaches.
Sekul also gives his namesake to the field at A.L. May Stadium, and he is also in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame with Ed Khayat, a former MGCCC defensive end who had a ten-year stint in the NFL, and was later head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Some of the other notable alumni of MGCCC include astronaut Fred Haise, who was on board the famous Apollo 13 and was played by actor Bill Paxton in the 1995 movie, as well as Olympic gold medalist Brittany Reese and former MLB All-Star with the Twins Matt Lawton.
Some extras for all the big games A.L. May Stadium has hosted over the years – in addition to the Bulldogs the stadium also hosted the 2016 and 2017 Mississippi Bowl, which is one of the bowl games for JUCO football. The 2017 Mississippi Bowl was for the NJCAA National Championship, in which East Mississippi Community College defeated Arizona Western College.
A.L. May Stadium is also the home field for Stone High School in nearby Wiggins. The Tomcats have used A.L. May Stadium since its opening, and have won 11 district championships.
The final extra is for the five national championships; all five are memorialized with a plaque outside the King Center. The plaque includes the roster of all the players and the 2007 national championship including several players who later played in the NFL including Tramain Brock of the San Francisco 49ers, Terrance Cody from the Baltimore Ravens, and future All-SEC linebacker from New England Patriots and Super Bowl champion, Chris White.