Examining the economic impacts of cancelled Hawkeye football games
IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - When he heard that the 2020 FryFest celebration had been cancelled, 30Hop general manager Mike Waters was surprised.
“A pretty big loss for the ‘River Landing when you have an event that carries 10 to 15 thousand people throughout the area & throughout the day,” Waters said. “Its a big impact for the whole corridor really, but again were just really trying to lean hard on our safe practices and making sure that our community feels safe walking into our building.”
FryFest is a celebration that kicks off the fall sports season and has been around since 2009, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers decided to cancel the event on Friday morning.
“The spikes happening in Johnson and Linn counties, it was just ultimately the decision,” said Monica Nieves, the VP of Special Events at ThinkIowaCity. “We weren’t surprised either but it wasn’t the decision we were hoping for.”
Organizers at ThinkIowaCity say losing that business is an adjustment that all of Johnson County will have to make together.
“Its disappointing,” Nieves said. “Usually, FryFest’s estimated economic impact is about $350,000 to the community so that’s also a huge disappointment.”
The $350,000 lost is relatively small when you consider the amount the local economy will lose due to cancelled football games. The Big Ten Conference recently announced that all football games will be conference-only which was a decision that subsequently eliminated three home Hawkeye football games.
The projections from Think Iowa City estimate that the economic impact from each of those football games is around 1 million dollars. Businesses around Iowa City and Coralville are hoping that its just the three cancelled games and not any more because of how many people the event brings in.
“There’s a lot of people that come and make a weekend out of it so the hotel business sustains us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday morning,” Waters said.
For now, we’ll have to wait and see if any more games or potentially the whole season ends up getting cancelled. As for FryFest, Think Iowa City left the possibility open for some smaller event to take place later this fall.
“It wont be the normal, crazy, fun time but were hopeful we can pull something off and if not, we’re really looking forward to 2021 and well just come back bigger and better than ever,” Nieves said.
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