JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl is more than three weeks away, but local businesses are gearing up for a big economic boost for the city.
"I love the Gator Bowl!" said Doug Ganson. He's the enthusiastic owner of Dipper Dan's Ice Cream and Treats at The Jacksonville Landing, as well as Sundrez gift shop.
He said Gator Bowl week is fantastic for his businesses. In fact, with so many fans in town for New Year's Eve the night before the game, it is the single busiest day on the year for him, bigger than July 4th when many locals come downtown.
"We have the parade, the pep rallies, then we have the fireworks and all the festivities on the river, fans all night long, the hotels are full, people are in from out of town celebrating New Year's Eve. "
The Hyatt Hotel and other downtown hotels are sold out or close to sold out already. Other area hotels are taking reservations for the thousands of football fans making plans to end 2012 and kickoff 2013 in Jacksonville, and root for their teams in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl.
"They are going to spend $14-15 million directly into our economy," said Rick Catlett, executive director of the Gator Bowl Association.
That will be a big boost for the 42,000 people who work in the hospitality industry in Jacksonville.
"That is 42,000 people who are not going to be working part time, but full time, some making time and a half on weekends and holidays, a great bonus for those 42,000 at the end of the year," said Catlett.
The game will pit Northwestern vs. Mississippi State. The two teams are expected to sell out their 12,750 ticket allotment and travel well said Catlett. Mississippi State came to town two years ago and many of their fans visited the city. Catlett says Northwestern has traveled well in their last two games. Northwestern is the highest-ranked Big Ten team in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll.
Catlett said the economic impact from Gator Bowl week would make it a Top 20 ranked local company in economic contributions to the city.
First Coast News