Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gator Bowl Sees Big Score; Game Might Attract about $21.3 Million

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gator Bowl Sees Big Score; Game Might Attract about $21.3 Million

Article excerpt

Byline: Timothy J. Gibbons, Times-Union staff writer

Wednesday's Gator Bowl might pump double the amount of money into the local economy as last year's game, with fans from across the country pouring into the city, wallets open.

The day before Christmas, 93 percent of the rooms in area hotels were already booked for the days around the New Year's Day bowl game. Just three days before last year's game, local hotels had only 83 percent of their rooms reserved.

Such an influx of visitors could mean about $21.3 million to the First Coast, according to the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau. Last year's game between Florida State and Virginia Tech generated $10.6 million.

This year's increased economic impact stems from the organizers' decision to select schools with high-interest fans willing to travel and spend a few nights in town.

"This is not a football issue, this is an economic issue," said Jim McCollum, chairman of the Gator Bowl selection committee. "The Gator Bowl is the forum that happens to be the catalyst for triggering this type of money coming into Northeast Florida. In the past two years, more and more, we've looked at this as a business that we have to run as a money-maker for the community as well as a sporting event for fans."

The selection committee decided early on to select North Carolina State because of the team's reputation for bringing busloads of boosters. Notre Dame was selected because of its national, energetic fan base. The last time Notre Dame was at the Gator Bowl, for example, in 1999, fans flocked to the First Coast from 48 states, McCollum said.

Even more folks cheering for the Fighting Irish will tune in on television, exposure that helps Jacksonville even if it doesn't immediately pump money into the local economy.

"There will be people all across the country who will watch this game who might not otherwise watch the Gator Bowl," said Kathleen Ratcliffe, president of the Jacksonville & the Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It's tremendous exposure for the Jacksonville area. The cutaway beauty shots give us an opportunity to showcase the beautiful downtown area, the beaches, the golf courses. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.