Lion football playoff games boost local economy

The pair of NCAA playoff games hosted by Strawberry Stadium during the epic 2013 Lion football season raked in a hefty amount of money for the city of Hammond and Tangipahoa Parish. The Lions played Sam Houston State and New Hampshire in the first two weeks of December 2013. According to a study released in February by the Southeastern Business Research Center with assistance by the Tangipahoa Parish Convention and Visitors Bureau, the two games brought in a calculated $835,000.
Carla Tate, the executive director of the TPCVB, says the influx of out-of-state visitors provided Hammond with an unexpected economic boost. The excitement through the city during December was felt by businesses across the Downtown Development District and the Hammond Square Mall. Tate has always seen the economic benefits to having a university in Tangipahoa Parish, but the games on Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 put the tourism impact on a wider scale, for everyone to see.
“The 2013 season just made that impact more visible to the public,” Tate said in an interview with Heidi Kinchen of The Advocate.
Day-trippers, assumed to be from Louisiana or Mississippi but not Tangipahoa Parish, were estimated as spending $106 a day, and they accounted for 3,122 attendees. Overnight attendees were calculated as spending $257 in Hammond during their stay. According to the story, visitors from the opposing teams accounted for 4,163 people and 200 athletes, so the larger numbers of people brought larger spending amounts. Sam Houston and New Hampshire fans spent an estimated $645,723.
The Business Research Center used a model commonly used in studying economic impacts. The input-output method calculated every dollar spent in the region by either “day-trippers” or “overnight visitors.” For the game against Sam Houston State, the estimated amount collected was $363,000 and for the New Hampshire game, $282,704.
Stacey Neal, president of the Alumni Association, was thrilled to see what the 2013 football season brought to Hammond. Everyone remembers the weather being not so friendly those two weeks and Neal fondly remembers all the people who came together despite the weather to cheer on the Lions. That pride was visible from all over the city, not just the stadium.
“We saw individuals who traveled despite the inclement weather and sat in the stands in the cold, rainy mist to cheer on the Lions,” Neal said. “Their love for Southeastern really showed through when you saw them wearing green and gold, not just in the stands, but in the parish schools and in businesses. The success of Southeastern has a domino effect; as Southeastern succeeds so do the surrounding communities.”
When the Lions played the Bearkats on Dec. 7, the attendance in Strawberry Stadium was 6,874 and when they played the Wildcats on Dec. 14 there were 5,886 in attendance. The bar for the Lions has been raised, and now Head Coach Ron Roberts has brought in new talent to carry on this new era in Lion football. Several new members have FBS experience and most recently, Karl Scott has been promoted to defensive coordinator. Scott was previously the linebackers’ coach and a travel coordinator.