Local businesses still cashing in during AutoZone Liberty Bowl weekend

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The AutoZone Liberty Bowl means big business for the Bluff City.

Tourism officials say the bowl game generates an annual, economic impact of $25 to $30 million.

However, things are a bit different this year with a match up that includes the Memphis Tigers.

For the first time in the bowl's 59 year history, the game will feature the home team. So what will this mean for the restaurants and shops that normally depend on two, fan bases to generate revenue?

WREG learned, despite not having an influx of fans from a second team, many local businesses are still cashing in and claiming a victory.

By early Friday, Iowa State fans were filling up the streets of downtown Memphis.

Cheryl Shultz and her mother Barb Oldenburg had just arrived in town.

Like many fans, they were ready to experience everything from blues to barbecue before the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Saturday.

"Just saw the ducks at the Peabody so that was fun," said Oldenburg.

Shultz added, "We`re looking forward to the tour this afternoon and hear about some of the music history and things like that."

Iowa State fan Nathan Monford traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio with family members to cheer on his team and see a bit of Memphis.

"The food, Beale Street, I want to go check out the blues, some of the blues bands, I also want to go to the MLK Center at the hotel."

Iowa State is expected to bring some 20,000 fans to the Bluff City.

"This is probably my fourth or fifth bowl game," said Brady Reicks who was also in Memphis when the Cyclones played in the Liberty Bowl in 2012.

He added, "We always treasure the opportunity to go out and have fun."

A big, traveling fan base is exactly what tourism leaders were counting on.

Wayne Tabor is the President and CEO of the Metropolitan Memphis Hotel and Lodging Association.

"Things started filling up last night and through tonight and through Saturday."

So any earlier worries, Tabor says, about missing out on a second, out of town fan base are now minimal.

"I don`t think it`s going to be the negative impact on us. I think we`re going to have a lot of folks in town. I see a lot of Tiger fans around."

WREG found Memphis fans out shopping too.

Tiger Book Store manger Jeremy Stinson says they've seen a big boost in business.

"Just because the fans not even going to the game or couldn`t get a ticket are still buying stuff just because it`s here in Memphis, and just because of the excitement around the game itself," explained Stinson.

Memphis fan Jeff Bedwell told NewsChannel 3, "We'll be shopping today, we`ve already shopped. We'll be playing downtown tonight before and after the parade."

So, no matter the outcome of the game, it could still be the win the Memphis community was counting on.

Memphis wasn't the only team to get a bowl game at home.

Florida Atlantic played in the Boca Raton Bowl, Navy played in the Military Bowl and Miami is playing in the Orange Bowl.