“The cavalry is not coming up the hill,” said Fritz Smith, CEO of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, which promotes tourism near the Penn State campus. “[Local businesses] must come down and try to find out how to survive without a lot of customer base coming in. Frankly, some of them may not be able to do that. “
Coronavirus-related shutdowns near campus caused local hotels to lose 96% of their revenue in April, 92% in May and 80% in June, according to the tourist office.
Judy Karaky, director of The Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center, says state restrictions that limit indoor meetings to 25 people fewer and a 25% occupancy rate in restaurants have hugged local businesses.
“Unfortunately, no autumn football season will have a negative economic impact on our county and our region,” she said in an email on Thursday. “Having grown up in State College, I personally see the core companies taking a significant hit and I hope our local community does its part to support all of these companies.”
About 60% -65% of visits to the area has no connection to Penn State. The football team is “a big chunk of it,” according to Smith, who estimates that Penn State football alone generates about 8% -9% of all visitors’ spending in the community.
“We are basically a white power factory town and our factory has been shut down,” Smith added.
The situation is not nearly as bleak in metro areas as the Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State Buckeyes, which ranked No. 2 in the nation heading into the fall after playing in playoff college football in December.
But Don DePerro, president and CEO of the Columbus Commerce Chamber of Commerce, still says that the cancellation of the Ohio State football game this fall will cost the city “hundreds of millions” of dollars in lost income.
“This is like a double whammy for these restaurants and caterers … that cater to tailgate parties,” DePerro said.
Kari Pollarine, a day manager at Varsity Club, a typically lively Ohio State campus bar, says business has been dramatically slower all summer because of Covid-19. Interrupting Buckeye football in the fall, she says, is another “big bolt on the road.”
“I hope we with NFL football may get some people in, but it’s going to be pretty quiet the rest of the year,” Pallarine told CNN Business. “[The bar’s owners] deduct from their savings to keep it afloat. We only do it because we have been in the business for so long. “
In Madison, Wisconsin, Badgers football games generate $ 114 million for the state each year and employ more than 1,000 people, according to the university’s athletics department.
Rob Gard, head of public relations and communications for Destination Madison, the city’s tourism and marketing organization, says it lost Badger football for the fall and the business environment has has joined forces and received much-needed support from patrons since the start of the pandemic.
“This is really not going to help us start a rebound,” Gard told CNN Business.