Sept. 24, 2003
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Deidre Bello and first appeared in the Sept. 20, 2003 edition of the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
When 70,000 football fans cheer at Kinnick Stadium today, local businesses likely will hear the ringing of cash registers.
Hawkeye home games translate into millions of dollars in revenue for the Iowa City/Coralville area.
On a typical game day, merchants double or triple their sales compared to an average Saturday. The numbers are especially high when a game is scheduled late in the day, said Pete Vanderhoef, owner of Iowa Book LLC, at 8 S. Clinton St. “They’ll be banging around downtown all day long,” Vanderhoef said of football fans. “The town is 55,000 people. You can put 75,000 people in the stadium- more than doubling the size of the town.”
To prepare for the busy day, he increases staff by about one-third, opening four registers instead of the normal two.
“(Iowa City) is 55,000 people. You can put 75,000 people in the stadium — more than doubling the size of the town.”
Pete Vanderhoef, Iowa Book and Supply
Last year, visitors spent more than $193 million in Johnson County, equating to about $13 million in taxes, said Josh Shamberger, executive director of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention Visitors Bureau. Football games are said to play a big part in revenue intake but exact numbers cannot be calculated, he said.
“It’s without question that every single one of these Hawkeye games brings in millions,” he said. “This is the peak time for Iowa City and Coralville with all these 70,000 fans, all eating and shopping here, and spending the night out at the bars and restaurants. We see an incredible boost (in revenue), it’s a big part of the economy.”
The University of Iowa’s Institute for Economic Research studied the regional effect of Hawkeye home football games and other university event in 1994 and 2000. The study estimated each home game resulted in nearly $1.52 million in gas, hotel and food expenditures.
In 2000, non-students and visitors spent about $1,495,200 per game, more than double the $639,540 spent in 1994. the 1994 data did not include students.
The Iowa City/Coralville area has one of the strongest hotel markets in the state, Shamberger said. Many of the 22,091 hotel, motel, and bed and breakfast rooms already are booked by the time football season rolls around. Occupancy has increased every month for the past two years, he said. Some fans reserve rooms a year in advance.
About 10 million people visit the Coral Ridge Mall annually to shop, and although it is difficult to separate football fans from other shoppers, many stores see an increase in sales after a football game, general manager Monica Nadeau said.
“Obviously when Iowa State is here we definitely see a lot of people who come out on a Saturday game day, you see lots of black and gold,” Nadeau said.
“It’s without question that every single one of these Hawkeye games brings in millions. The fall is the peak time for Iowa City and Coralville with all these 70,000 fans, all eating and shopping here, and spending the night out in bars and restaurants. We see an incredible boost (in revenue), it’s a big part of the local economy.”
Josh Shamberger, Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau
After the first home game, the mall’s Build-A-Bear Workshop sold out of black and gold bear cheerleaders’ outfits. The store opened in June next to Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
People can fill their animals with huggable stuffing and a tiny heart, stitch them shut, then fluff them with a brush, manager Connie Duwa said. For today’s Arizona State game, the store ordered 96 Hawkeye cheerleader outfits and about 48 other school colors.
“The first game, wives came in while the game was going on and our (bear) cheerleaders were out front doing their cheers,” Duwa said. “Right now the cheerleading outfits are blowing out the store.”