Business owners depend on UT football crowds

Business owners depend on UT football crowds

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Paul Jordan, the general manager at the downtown Hilton, says he is hoping for a good crowd for the first UT football game Saturday. Paul Jordan, the general manager at the downtown Hilton, says he is hoping for a good crowd for the first UT football game Saturday.
Many business owners 6 News spoke with say having a new coach in place means businesses are fighting each other for business. Many business owners 6 News spoke with say having a new coach in place means businesses are fighting each other for business.
"Everybody is fired up about having the new coach this year, so everyone is on the band wagon," said Rita's owner Nancy Langkamer. "Everybody is fired up about having the new coach this year, so everyone is on the band wagon," said Rita's owner Nancy Langkamer.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -  The start of the University of Tennessee football season means big bucks for the local economy. A number of business owners say they depend on the crowds from the games.

Paul Jordan, the general manager at the downtown Hilton, says he is hoping for a good crowd for the first UT football game Saturday.

He would not say if they were fully booked for the weekend yet.

"We don't want to divulge any of secrets," said Jordan. "We'll do great. There is a difference this year than last year. Everyone is fighting for business."    

Many business owners 6 News spoke with say the difference is having a new coach in place.

"Everybody is fired up about having the new coach this year, so everyone is on the band wagon," said Rita's owner Nancy Langkamer. "I hope they stay on and don't jump off."    

They hope the excitement will translate into more people coming to games this year and spending more money.     

Business owners in Market Square say football season is a large chunk of their profits.

"Obviously when that many, that bunch of a crowd comes into town it obviously impacts," said Earth to Old City co-owner Paula West. "For the most part it's a really positive. We love it."

"We love UT football day," said Langkamer. "It is very good for business, also depending on the game time, for us in particular if it's a later afternoon or evening game, like this Saturday, it's good. People come downtown and hangout and shop."   

According to a study done at the university, UT's athletic department has an annual economic impact of approximately $151 million for the entire state.     

The study also says the department raises over $28 million in state and local revenues each year.     

Tourism officials say thousands of people will stick around Knoxville after the game, and their goal is to keep them coming back.

"It's a huge impact," said Visit Knoxville president Kim Bumpas. "I mean we like to look at it they are coming to town for the game and what we want to do is to educate them about the experiences they can have in Knoxville, so they will come back and visit again."   

Since 2005, the number of people attending UT games has been declining.     

Last year's average was just under 90,000, the lowest since 1979.     

Most people we spoke with Monday hope that number will start increasing this year.

UT officials say tickets for Saturday's game against Austin Peay are still available. For more information, go to www.uttix.com .

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