County donates money to promote university sports

A donation of $175,000 was recently made to Florida A&M University to help advertise and market the athletic games and events.

Because of the economic crisis affecting the United States, Ed DePuy, Leon County Commissioner at Large and the board of county commissions, came up with a plan to help the local universities generate more money within the city.

“We met and discussed how there has been an economic downturn both at Florida State and FAMU with attendance in football games and all because of the economic times we are in and so we came up with a plan to help motivate people to want to travel to these games to help support the Rattlers and Seminoles,” DePuy said.

The Tourist Development Council, a mandated program that uses funds collected from the hotel bed tax, gave the donation. The money will be used to support the local tourism economy.

Guy Thompson, executive director of the Tourist Development Council, said the money was donated Sept. 12.

“This is a one time donation because of the economic conditions that everybody’s taking,” Thompson said. “Particularly the universities losing a lot of funding.”

DePuy said he requested the funds to help fans attend the universities’ games.

“I am the one that made the motion to take money from the tourist bed tax to fund some of these activities to get more folks to come the athletic events throughout the year,” he said.”The money is given over the period of 16 months.”

While both universities requested a certain amount to be donated to them, DePuy said after the issue was debated, arrangements were eventually made.

“We actually lowered the amount that had been requested by FSU and dramatically increased the amount that had been requested for FAMU,” DePuy said. “FAMU initially requested $50,000 but by the time the process was done, the Leon county commissions approved the school for $175,000.”

Tola Thompson, director of governmental relations, said FAMU actually requested $200,000 from the Tourist Development Council but were recommended to request only $50,000 because they are much smaller than FSU.

“We felt we asked for what we deserved,” Thompson said.

FSU received $225,000 and DePuy stated that because the school is larger, the donation seemed fair.

In the proposal FAMU provided to the Tourist Development Council, it stated why they are making the request and how it would benefit not only FAMU, but all of Tallahassee.

“When people come to FAMU, they spend a lot of money. When they come into town, they don’t just stay in a hotel, they eat in restaurants,” DePuy said. “Anything we can do to help get people to come and attend athletic events at both of the universities, helps our economy and the local business people.”