SALT LAKE CITY – Sitting under the shade of the Rice-Eccles Stadium, Pubupin Porcupine and Grill has a completely different energy on game days. Patrons often spill in the streets, rain or shine, waiting for a spot during what floor manager Codi Winn says are the busiest days of the restaurant.
“Great absolute madness,” Winn said. “Even when it is 10 degrees outside the hall it is full and people are outside. It is chaos.”
Bartenders seek to work game days for tips, while the rest of the staff, many of whom are University of Utah students, enjoy the energy and coincidence that comes with college football. But things will be significantly different this year.
“It ̵6;s definitely a big hit for us,” Winn said just hours after Pac-12 announced it was canceling all fall sports, including lucrative football games, by the end of the calendar year. “There are so many busy days that we just won’t try this year.”
The cancellation of the Pac-12 sports sent shockwaves across the sports community, but the economic impact of Tuesday’s decision will reverberate across Salt Lake City and Utah for months, particularly at nearby bars, restaurants and hotels. It was another blow to businesses that were already recovering after the closure of COVID-19 in the spring.
“There is no doubt that the loss of PAC-12 football and fall college sports will be felt by the local economy and businesses,” said Derek Miller, CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. “Sport offers a great cry for our communities and unites us to celebrate student athletes who are developing extensively learned skills on and off the field. While we may not know the full economic impact, we know that many small businesses “They are already fighting and that will be an additional burden to bear.”
He hopes understanding that this will hurt downtown businesses will encourage people to support those businesses in other ways.
“However, this challenge provides us all with another reason to engage in the economy and support our local businesses,” he said. “Like all of us who live and work through the pandemic, PAC-12 officials are looking to balance concerns and manage risks. We hope these officials can work over the next few months to develop a risk management strategy that will allow football and other sports to return in the spring. “
Bill Riley is the voice of the University of Utah football team, and he said that although there were rumors that the season could be canceled, he hoped officials would at least work for the next few weeks to find creative solutions to security issues.
“I think there has always been a kind of back of our minds,” Riley said. “I was a kind of half-filled, optimistic, test and scientific glass, the ingenuity of the people and the kind of common sense, and I thought we would be in a much better place in August than we were.”
He said the conference showed signs that they were working towards sports games this fall, even if it was a shorter season and a very different situation.
“I felt better when they went all over the conference,” Riley said. “Then two weeks ago, they turned down that schedule, and we knew there was still a chance it might not happen, but I was hoping Pac-12 would give itself a little more time with a 26 “September. good thing. We can see how the numbers went, how the situation improved.”
And positive test numbers in Pac-12 states have improved. But none of them was below a positive 5% rate, which is what some medical professionals, including CDC officials, recommended reopening schools and allowing full athletic competitions.
The University of Utah Center for Public Policy and Administration released a report outlining the economic benefits of the U.S. football move to Pac-12 in 2012, which included doubling overseas participation in home football games in Utah. At the time, overseas fans were estimated to have spent about $ 2.3 million and television revenue was about $ 8 million.
Overall, that study found that it was in 2012 that Utah enjoyed an infusion of $ 10.3 million in revenue from overseas visitors coming from those Pac-12 football games.
Natalie Gochnour, associate dean at the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, said that this kind of study has not been done recently, but stands to reason that the economic impact of those games and those visitors “is grown since then. “
“The way economists think about something like that, we are interested in overseas spending as part of those events,” she said. “This is what they are looking at when opposing teams come to town. How long do they stay? How much do they spend? The concept is that the economic impact is when the money comes from outside Utah.”
At the University of Utah, the long lines and steady flow of gaming day customers will be missing from the Campus Store this fall. But Abby Hirshberg, commodity sales manager and lead buyer, says what has been an abnormal summer prepared her staff for what will be an even more abnormal decline.
“This summer has not been like summer in the past.… There is much less foot traffic in general, and we need to adapt,” she said. But like other businesses in the area, no football means that The Campus Store will miss what Hirshberg says are her busiest days, “there’s no question about that.”
“Basketball is great, so is gymnastics, but football is definitely the main source of income,” she said. “Absolutely sales have already dropped. I think we are all in the same boat about this.”
The economic impact aside, the overall mood around Utah University on Tuesday was strange. Students, university staff, and community members also faced the sad reality of losing college football season 2020, a feeling best summed up by Winn.
“We’m booming for two reasons. Bummed because money, you know, if you want to make money, these are the shifts you go to. But on the other hand, a lot of us are US students. So it’s a whole season. where we do not have school sports. “
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