Local businesses profit from the return of college football and its fans

Photo of 2021 FAMU vs Fort Valley State football game at Bragg Stadium.
Photo courtesy: Devin P. Grimes and famuathletics.com

Suspense, excitement, and school spirit aren’t the only reasons citizens of Tallahassee missed having a normal football season last year. College football has a significant impact on Tallahassee’s economy and local businesses. Now, businesses are back in action as the season returns.

According to Visit Tallahassee, Tallahassee broke records in 2019 as tourism brought in over a billion dollars in revenue for Leon County. In 2021, local businesses are hoping to reach this record again as in-person sporting events return and get more fans to visit the city.

Choose Tallahassee, an organization focused on promoting why professionals, retirees and students enjoy being in Tallahassee, provides residents and visitors with sources to live, work, play and learn in the city. The executive director and multi-business owner Gregg Patterson, explained that football games from both Florida A&M University and Florida State University are not just something fun, but an essential piece of Tallahassee’s culture.

“The hotels are filled up. The restaurants are full. People shop in our stores. It’s huge,” said Patterson. “These sporting events are one of the reasons people Choose Tallahassee.”

Tallahassee fans aren’t just buying a football game ticket. Fans contribute to the city’s economy by supporting local businesses, attending social events and booking weekend stays as early as Thursday for Saturday afternoon games.

As alumni and college sports fans travel from all over, Airbnb hosts in Tallahassee are also benefiting from the return of home football games.

Henry Mangili, an Airbnb Superhost since July 2015, has seen the vast impact college football has had on the city firsthand.

“With football or not, my places are booked,” said Mangili. “The difference caused by the home games is that those dates or weekends were booked with large anticipation. Every home game weekend was already booked in June and July.”

The pandemic for local college retailer, Campus Greek & Embroidery Shop, pushed the store to improve its online presence even with its core focus being the Tallahassee area. The shop offers licensed sorority and fraternity apparel and gifts, but their game day apparel for FAMU and FSU has recently become “super popular,” according to the shop owner Lawrence Greco.

“We have definitely seen an uptake in local sales, which has been great,” said Greco. “We definitely get that alumni traffic.”

Greco provided an exclusive statement that the shop is coming out with new retro-inspired, licensed FAMU apparel per numerous customer requests. Shoppers can expect the line to be released this week.

With the FAMU rattlers and FSU seminoles returning to the stadium, local businesses are seeing an increase in revenue compared to last year’s slow fall season.