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Liberty Bowl Fans Bring Economic Boost

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(Memphis) About 20,000 fans are expected to visit Memphis this weekend. They are in Memphis to cheer on their teams playing in the Liberty Bowl New Year’s Eve.

With the fans comes an economic boost in Memphis.

It may be cold and gloomy outside now, but things are expected to start sizzling as Iowa State and the University of Tulsa duke it out for the liberty bowl title.

Iowa State fan David Stubend drove ten hours to see his favorite team play.

Gyda Hudson, A University of Tulsa fan, drove 6 hours. But Hudson says it’s worth it to see her team battle it out and to explore the bluff city.

“Oh they love barbecue, so we’re doing barbecue,” said Hudson.

Jeff Goss, Operations Director for Beale and Second Inc. tells News Channel 3, normally Beale street merchants travel to the cities where the schools are and make a pitch of where to visit in the city. But with the teams being chosen later this year, they didn't have time to do that.

The good news is the late announcement of who would play actually turned out to be more profitable.

“We had a lot of visits pre-Christmas from the teams just checking out sites looking for places to go. It’s been a good two weeks actually,” said Goss.

This year both teams are states away, so there's not much local interest in the actual game. But Goss says, that is helping to bring more money in as well. Folks need a place to stay, booking hotels in downtown and in East Memphis. The out-of-towners also help extend what would be a profitable 2-day weekend.

“This kind of gives us maybe even a four-day,” said Goss.

It’s not known how much money the estimated 20,000 fans are expected to bring with them. But Goss says, “If we didn't have it. It would be a hard-candy Christmas, but it's millions of dollars for Memphis."

Proving no matter which colors fans are rooting for it all makes a lot of green for Memphis.