NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – “We may need football to foot the bill.” That’s the message News 2 is hearing from Music City officials.
The two-toned blue has a bigger impact on the local economy than you’d probably think. And it’s likely, residents will pay if there’s no play due to COVID-19.
Butch Spyridon, CEO of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corporation, was a big player in getting the Titans to Nashville.
The Houston Oilers moved to Music City in 1998 and changed their name a year later to what we know today.
“Without question it is one of the key pillars of how we turned the corner and became a global destination,” Spyridon said. “It legitimatized us.”
Two decades later, Nashville played host to a record-breaking event with the 2019 NFL Draft.
From ‘Draftville’ to drought now, it’s “We don’t know.”
Will the Titans play a full regular season and even more importantly, will fans be in the stands?
“If we can keep the caseload on the downward trajectory and mask mandate in place I feel we got a shot, I hope we can get there,” Spyridon said.
There are no preseason games for the National Football League this year. The mandate comes amid the coronavirus. Spyridon said a loss of a preseason is a small price to pay if we get a full regular season in return.
“It won’t be a full stadium by any full stretch of the imagination,” Spyridon noted. “I think even in the NFL they have said a max of 25 percent, I don’t know what number the Titans are working on but Nashville and the Titans and the state need some fans in the stands.
For some it will provide money in their pockets, for others, it will provide peace of mind.
“It’s a distraction from the misery we’re all sharing right now.” Spyridon said. “It’s a distraction from depression and it’s that bit of positivity I’m going to say I need and I think the entire community needs.”
Football – is something Spyridon said our economy needs. Each home game brings in $2.5 million in visitor spending.
No fans means a loss of funding.
“It will hit our pocket books like everything else has since March. It pays a lot of bills that otherwise would have to come form other sources, including higher property taxes. We believe visitor spend is a piece of the overall economy and part of our economic development.”
While the Titans are planning to play a full regular-season schedule, the NFL has formulated a ticket refund plan for canceled games or games held without fans. All of these scenarios are real and possible, including a canceled season.
“I think having a season without fans is certainly way better than no season. Depending on capacity people will gather at their favorite watering hole. They will have watch parties at their houses; they will tailgate at home; they will engage behind the team just like they are with the Preds right now,” said Spyridon.
Spyridon added the future of the Music City Bowl is still in question. The event usually brings in $5 to $15 million in visitor spending, depending on the teams playing.
The Titans’ first game is set for September 14.
It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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