Thousands expected during Southern Heritage Classic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tens of thousands of excited football fans are descending on Memphis right now for the Southern Heritage Classic.

It's a Memphis tradition pitting Jackson State University and Tennessee State University against each other at the Liberty Bowl.

Kick off is Saturday, but Memphis businesses are already being flooded with tourists.

On Friday, Tiger Lane at the Liberty Bowl was already filled with RVs and fans grilling and getting ready for the big game.

However, the crowds will expand outside of the Liberty Bowl.

"This is a huge weekend for Memphis," said Jeff Hulett with the Memphis Convention and Vistors Bureau.

They come for the rivalry fight on the gridiron.

"Just tens of thousands of people coming into our city," said Hulett.

Fans travel from far and wide.

"I'm here from the Chicago area," said Dwight Battle.

Before and after the game, they get a taste of Memphis.

"We're looking at downtown, Beale Street that area then we're gonna do the Riverfront. We're staying out on the East side, so we're gonna do a little shopping," said Battle.

Battle, who is a Jackson State fan, is visiting all over Memphis, starting at Central BBQ in Midtown.

Clearly, he wasn't alone as a line stretched out the door Friday afternoon.

"They just dropped off a bus of 50 so we're glad to have them, try to accommodate them all as best we can," said Jon Luna, Central's manager.

Luna said they have extra staffing this weekend to handle the crowds.

"We open at 11, but we'll expect a line starting at 10:30, 10:15."

While he's happy for the boost in cash flow, he said that's just part of why he likes Southern Heritage Classic weekend.

"It also means making Memphis look good."

Ia statement Memphis Police said, "The Southern Heritage Classic is a reoccurring event that we are accustomed to handling. We will have the adequate number of officers present both downtown and throughout the area of the Southern Heritage Classic. We have not experienced any issues during the past years, and we do not anticipate any occurring this year."

The enhanced security on Beale Street and downtown will also continue.

The Downtown Commission President said if you have your ticket from the game you can get onto Beale for free Saturday night.