August 31, 2012 10:01:15 AM
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State University Bulldogs will take on the Jackson State University Tigers on Saturday. The players are ready. The coaches are ready. The fans are ready.
Football season is here, and with a massive influx of people already beginning to descend on Starkville and the surrounding area, local businesses are prepared to rake in the cash.
According to the last completed study in 2009, fans spent an average of $9.6 million in Starkville, generating almost $450,000 in taxes on a typical football weekend. Those numbers are almost certainly higher today, given the increased interest in MSU football, which had sold out 16 consecutive games going into this season.
Ian Few works at the Bulldog Package Store on Highway 12, a few miles from Davis Wade Stadium. He said his store's sales volume will likely triple what it normally sees. And when MSU plays a Southeastern Conference opponent, the sales can go even higher than that.
"For some things, like pints, we quadruple what we normally carry," Few said. "It depends on the game, but we are hoping Labor Day weekend gives people that chance to travel."
The store's location is on the route that fans from Jackson take to town.
"For some people, this is the only liquor store they ever use on game days," he said. "The younger crowd are the regulars, but alumni are such a huge deal."
An addition to Bin 612 on University Drive, mere blocks from campus, has the management at the bar and restaurant anxious to see weekend sales.
"This is our first football game since the expansion," said General Manager Paul Brasfield. "We will always do weekly reports relative to last year's sales, and ever since the expansion our numbers have obviously been up, we can seat more and serve more."
Brasfield said on a regular weekend, they are happy with $8,000 or $9,000 in total sales, but that could easily be doubled this weekend.
"But we were open for Super Bulldog Weekend with the expansion, and we cleared $20,000 in one day," he said. "That is a ton for this little place. We have never seen anything like it."
He credits the younger alumni for the "hell of an influx" the Bin sees each football weekend.
"This place has been open seven years, the people that have been here during that time like to come back and see their old hang-out, see who they still know, all that," Brasfield said. "They just want to come back and see what's changed and what's different."
Hotels in the area rely on big event weekends, like football games, to sustain themselves throughout the year, with these weekends making up, "a lot of our revenue," according to Gabe Smith, general manager of the Hampton Inn in Starkville.
Most hotels in Starkville require a two-night minimum stay and rates are usually much higher than they would be, according to Smith.
Even so, all the hotels are usually sold out, with people booking months in advance, especially for the bigger games. Hotels are often left to helping guests find rooms in Louisville, West Point and Columbus. Even Tupelo, at 65 miles away, gets some of the overflow, he said.
This weekend, however, there may be some rooms available in Starkville. The non-conference opponent, combined with the threat of rains produced by Tropical Storm Isaac, have resulted in a few cancelations.
That isn't likely to be the case when the marquee teams arrive, however.
"Auburn, Tennessee, (Texas) A&M, we have been sold out for six months or longer," Smith said. "A weekend like this one though, we still have a few rooms available, mostly due to the hurricane and cancelations."
The impact of these weekends is undeniable, said Smith.
"We got pretty lucky this year, too," he said. "We get seven of them."