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Bowl Games Decisions Can Have Far-Reaching Impact for Local Economy

The specter of postseason football each year isn’t just a passion for casual and diehard fans alike. Tourism and hospitality professionals watch the games and their attendance closely since they can so quickly bolster a city’s coffers.

Even for people who do not like sports, bowl games can be beneficial for the local tourism industry since the occasion gives hoteliers and others who care about hospitality a chance to draw visitors near the end of the calendar and near the genesis of the coming one.

Consider the Georgia-Florida college football rivalry game, which has taken place in Jacksonville, Fla. for almost 100 years. While it isn’t a bowl game, it does have all of the factors that cities appreciate where college football and tourism meet.

Per the Florida Times-Union, Visit Jacksonville says the game has a $33 million economic impact, and other cities have vied for the game in past years because they realize the boon it can be for the hospitality industry in a given locale. Visitors have to sleep somewhere, they have to eat somewhere, and they may choose to shop or sightsee otherwise.

Bowl games are attractive each year in places like Montgomery, Ala. and Annapolis, Md. because they can bring what is many times a much-needed jolt to the local economy. Not only will some travel into these places, but alumni may come out to see others from their alma mater and could spend money that they might have kept in their pockets in other circumstances.

Here are some of the factors tourism personnel might be surprised to know that football leaders, bowl leaders, and players consider as their year draws to a close.

Bowl personnel: How far is the game from a given institution?

One of the considerations that the higher-ups in higher-ups in college football make is the proximity a given school has to the location where a bowl will take place. Ideally, the bowl is in a relatively centralized location for both schools. Take the Independence Bowl will take place in Shreveport, Louisiana for example, and onlookers will see the Houston Cougars (a four-hour drive) take on the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (a three-hour drive). Fans and alumni from both institutions will see fit to travel.

Tourism personnel: How well can the city accommodate travelers when they arrive?

In past years, Boca Bowl leaders estimated the game could have a $2 million impact on the local economy. Part of that impact touches on the responsibilities of hoteliers and other lodging professionals. Some universities have a football fanbase that travels well, and that means whatever city they end up in has to accommodate a glut of people who need lodging for a night or two.

Players: How can I spend my downtime in a given place?

Part of the allure of going to a bowl game is the chance to enjoy a new city and the opportunities it may have for visitors. Though the professionals take care of lodging and other concerns, players many times are free to visit local attractions and spend their money as they see fit like any other tourist who will only be there for a short time. Playing high-level football allows many of these men to visit regions of the country they are unfamiliar with, and for some, they get a chance to reconnect with family. That’s valuable, and it’s something that to some extent can be measured since a great deal of money changes hands via food or local amenities or whatever else.