Vol losses take their toll on downtown Knoxville business

Vol losses take their toll on downtown Knoxville business

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"Generally it's an easy sellout, particularly when the larger teams are coming to town. Alabama, Florida, things like that," said General Manager Mitch Holloway of the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park. "Generally it's an easy sellout, particularly when the larger teams are coming to town. Alabama, Florida, things like that," said General Manager Mitch Holloway of the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park.
"Generally it's an easy sellout, particularly when the larger teams are coming to town. Alabama, Florida, things like that," said General Manager Mitch Holloway of the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park. "Generally it's an easy sellout, particularly when the larger teams are coming to town. Alabama, Florida, things like that," said General Manager Mitch Holloway of the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The University of Tennessee football team's losing season isn't doing any favors for downtown businesses.

With less people heading to Knoxville for home games, many places are taking a hit in revenue.

One of the first places to notice a drop in tourism is hotels. Area hotels said the local economy is closely tied to what happens on the football field.

A lot of them bank their entire yearly budget on how much they'll make during football season.

If the Vols are winning, most hotels are booked up six months to one year in advance.

Right now, many places are struggling to fill even a portion of their rooms.

The downtown Holiday Inn used to never have trouble filling its nearly 300 rooms.

"Generally it's an easy sellout, particularly when the larger teams are coming to town. Alabama, Florida, things like that," said General Manager Mitch Holloway of the Holiday Inn World's Fair Park.

But when a season has far more losses than fans like, less of them make the trip to Knoxville to watch a home game.

"So goes UT football, so goes the city," said Holloway.

The drop in tourism cuts deeply into profits for businesses whose success is tied to the team's success on the field.

"There's a significant drop off when the team is struggling. We saw that particularly after the Florida game this year. It's been difficult to completely sell the hotel out in the last few weeks," said Holloway.

They've been forced to change their selling policy to try to attract guests.

"Two-night minimum has now become a one night. Come in Friday or Saturday. We've had to drop back on rates somewhat to get back to the occupancy that we've experienced in the past," said Holloway.

The losses on the football field aren't only affecting businesses in close proximity to UT.

"When the downtown doesn't really sell out, it doesn't compress out into the market of Knoxville itself out into the outerlying areas," said Holloway.

Back in 2007, when the Vols played in the SEC championship, average attendance was more than 104,000 people. The next year, 101,000. It dropped to 99,000 the year after that.

Last year's losing season averaged 94,000 fans.

Last Saturday's game against Missouri brought out 89,000 people.

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