FSU-Duke Game Is a Test Case for City
Daniels, Earl, The Florida Times Union
Jacksonville city officials want to make a Florida State University football game an annual event.
They want to stage a game each year that will draw crowds and provide an economic boost for the city like the Gator Bowl and the Florida-Georgia game do.
But building a tradition takes time.
This year, the FSU-Duke game --- actually a Duke home game the Blue Devils agreed to move to Jacksonville because they will make about $800,000 --- is not a huge draw. Alltel Stadium is not sold out. And local businesses --- while ready to accommodate scores of football fans --- do not know what to expect.
"Business will be mediocre," said John Remmers, general manager of the Omni Jacksonville Hotel downtown. "The impact of the game is nothing near the level of the Florida-Georgia [game] or a Gator Bowl game. But we appreciate the business."
Employees at the other downtown hotels said they're busier this weekend than on weekends when there aren't games, but none reported being sold out.
But game-related business seems to be concentrated downtown. The Holiday Inn on Baymeadows Road saw virtually no spike in business, said Max Jiuliani, sales manager at the hotel.
Merchants at The Jacksonville Landing, a downtown festival marketplace, are uncertain of what kind of business to expect, but they are hopeful.
"During the Florida-Georgia weekend this place is nuts, but it has a reputation already. . . . This is the first time for this game," said Sean Reid, manager at The Mill Brewery & Eatery at the Landing. "But hopefully, they will come back next year."
Jeremy Ariker, owner of Huey's Restaurant, also at the Landing, said business will depend on how many out-of-town fans show up for the game.
"We have high expectations and are looking at it like a mini Florida-Georgia game," Ariker said. …