MEMPHIS, Tenn. –– The Southern Heritage Classic has become an attraction in Memphis, but the word that it will no longer feature Jackson State University leaves questions.
“We have had crowds of 55,000 people here for a weekend- many of them from out of town, selling out our hotels from one end of the city to the other,” Kevin Kane from the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In a termination notice to Classic Founder Fred Jones, JSU’s attorney said the school’s governing athletic conference entered JSU in another agreement that conflicts with the classic.
Jones, who declined an interview, says JSU had a contract with his company and he did not breach it -– they did.
He sent us the yearly payouts going to JSU and Tennessee State since they started the matchup that showed $6-million to each school’s football team and band over 31 years.
The latest contract expires in 2024 and says each school will receive 350-thousand dollars for each game and $2.00 for every ticket sold by their respective box office.
Jones says there are expenses for the stadium, insurance, taxes, field prep and salaries.
And the $29 million economic impact of the games refers to what it brings to the city.
“The game has been as high as $10-million+ in economic benefit. So it’s a big deal for the community when you think of the hotels, restaurants and all the advantages they take advantage of while they are here,” Kane said.
TSU was among those blindsided by Jackson’s State departure, calling it insensitive, irresponsible and having a far-reaching impact beyond football.
Jones is busy trying to find another team to fill the spot.
“Fred can put it together. Hopefully he will find something to make this work,” Kane said.
There is speculation that JSU will play in another football series in Birmingham instead.