College football is not just for the players: WVU athletics brings millions in revenue into Morgantown

Several athletic conferences have cancelled their seasons, but the Big Twelve is moving forward with football in the Fall.
Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 6:57 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - WVU Mountaineer football players were at practice Tuesday morning, preparing for their upcoming season. But it is not just the players waiting for opening day at Milan Puskar Stadium.

“Morgantown definitely has an element of seasonality,” said Dr. John Deskins, Associate Professor of Economics at WVU. “There is certainly no doubt that we have that boost from visitor spending in the Fall.”

Coaches, athletes and even the President of the United States have made their voices heard regarding the Fall collegiate season.

Even still, conferences are considering their options ahead of opening day kickoff. The Big 10 and Pac-12 conferences postponed their seasons on Tuesday. The Big 12 conference is moving forward with a 10-game schedule announced in early August.

“If the football season does not happen it will certainly limit the number of people visiting Morgantown. It will limit their spending at restaurants, hotels, bars. It will hurt the economy,” said Dr. Deskins.

Many small businesses depend on the surge of visitors from home football games to survive through the slower Summer months.

“Some 60-plus thousand people are generally in the community from around the state and beyond participating in the games,” said Russell Rogerson, CEO of the Morgantown Partnership.

Rogerson says local businesses see huge boosts in revenue when people stay for extended periods of time within Morgantown.

“If the [conference] chooses to [cancel the season], then we will adjust and adapt and move forward. One thing I can tell you is that Morgantown and the surrounding areas are very resilient,” said Rogerson.

WVU changed their schedule after the Big Ten conference shifted to a conference-only schedule in July before the announcement to cancel the season on Tuesday. That initial shift caused the WVU-Maryland game, scheduled to take place at Milan Puskar Stadium on September 19th, to be cancelled.

Less home games means less revenue for many of the businesses depending on major turnout to events.

“That is our biggest sale - when there is a specialty for Gold Rush. Stripe the Stadium, the True Blue. That is why we have such a different value of shirts all the different styles and designs - because when those specific games happen is our biggest boost in sales,” said Drew Denham, manager of Universi-Tees.

The business sells a wide range of WVU merchandise on High Street and sees most of its foot traffic come during the football season. Denham says they also see peaks in business whenever families come to visit students.

Currently, the first game on the Mountaineers schedule is a home game against Eastern Kentucky University on September 12th.

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