Vendors rake in big green on game day

It is game day. The first home football game of the season. For some students, that means a fresh haircut or new outfit. For alumni, it may mean tailgating and reuniting with old friends. For the team, it’s a chance at revenge from the season-opening loss.

The band is ready to throw down after practices more intense than Atlanta Falcons training camp. And in between all that, everyone will be hungry.

Cha-ching: as you satiate your appetite with that $5 polish sausage, $4 strawberry daiquiri or $6 turkey leg, every ring on the register is growing the vendors’ bank accounts.

Terry and Yolanda Mutch of Orlando said they have been helping Yolanda Mutch’s parents run the two Mack’s Family Kitchen booths for about six or seven years.

There is one booth in front of the stadium and another behind selling items such as garlic crabs, fish and smoked turkey legs. Terry Mutch estimated they would generate a couple thousand dollars in sales on Saturday.

Their enterprise is not just limited to the four home games at Florida A&M University.

“We do all the home games and all the Downtown GetDowns,” said Yolanda Mutch, a 1996 FAMU graduate.

The Downtown GetDowns, a free block party before Florida State University games, reportedly draw thousands of people to downtown Tallahassee every year. That means thousands of potential customers from all over the Big Bend and the Southeast for Mack’s Family Kitchen

While anyone can grill some hot dogs and any child can run a lemonade stand, being a professional vendor is a costly process.

“I have three permits: one from the county, the state and a federal tax ID,” said Ron Gilbert, owner of Gilbert’s Rib King B.B.Q…And More. “I have $2 million in liability insurance.”

Gilbert said the licenses cost about $3,500 to maintain per year.

As for a ballpark figure of what he expected to make for the first home game, Gilbert said, “About $3,500 for home games.”

Well, there are four home games this year, but Gilbert was not including the biggest game in that figure. He said for Homecoming he usually makes around $15,000.

Let’s do the math: For Saturday’s game, Gilbert said he set up shop Thursday after 5 p.m. That is three days of work with a total of $3,500, which equals more than $1,000 a day.

Keep those calculators out: $3,500 times the first three home games, plus $15,000 for Homecoming. That’s $25,500 in four weekends’ worth of work.

Criminal justice student Travisa Skinner said for the most part, she attends every home game. She said she looks forward to the vendors, especially the sausage lady, or Family Concessions.

“I think they can lower their prices just a tad bit, but the food is good,” said Skinner, 20, from Fort Lauderdale.

Game day is a lucrative venture in many aspects. Parking anywhere on campus, including the parking garage, is $10. This is despite the fact that students with decals can park free during the week.

In another example, a representative from the Honda Battle of the Bands presented a check for $1,000 to the Marching 100 at the beginning of halftime.

And for a third illustration, general admission tickets cost $25. Bragg Memorial Stadium was not exactly full, but the athletic office also offers family packages Monday-Friday. Four tickets are available for $50, as opposed to paying $25 for each ticket.

Special promotions can also help the bottom line. For Saturday’s game only, kids 15 and younger were free with a paid adult ticket.

“Season tickets are $80, so you end up paying $20 a game versus $25,” said OPS employee J.D. Floyd. “Homecoming is $40 alone, so you save money with the different packages.”

Floyd, 23, a junior, said game day total ticket sales would not be available until Wednesday, after The Famuan’s press time.

Next week Premier Bank will sponsor the upcoming game against Howard University and donate $250 to the Rattler Boosters.

Between the vendors, game tickets and sponsorship, many people find a way to cash in on game day.