Impact on local economy in millions if Notre Dame football is canceled

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 6:55 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It’s the $100 million question for the local economy.

Will Notre Dame play football this fall?

“Just by the numbers, a football weekend is about $17 million in visitor spending for St. Joe County, about $22 million for the South Bend/Elkhart region,” said Executive Director Rob Decleene with Visit South Bend/ Mishawaka.

At $17 million per game, times six home games on the 2020 schedule—that amounts to a $102 million economic impact.

“Think about the whole package of a football weekend you know. You come in, you stay in a hotel for the weekend, you’re going to go out and eat and maybe go out to the bars and then you’re probably going to get some tail gating supplies and go get some souvenirs,” said Decleene.

On the east edge of campus, Mulligans Bar and Grill just celebrated its 12th year in business.

“Game day is amazing here at Mulligans. It’s absolutely fantastic. The electricity in the air is phenomenal,” said proprietor Patrick Michael Mulligan. “You know, you can hear the band playing in the background, we’re just a few steps away from the stadium.”

Mulligan is praying that the Fighting Irish find a way to return to action this year.

“Let’s face it, it’s going to be absolutely devastating if it doesn’t happen.”

Jim Augustine has sold Notre Dame memorabilia for the past 14 years at Augie’s Locker Room. He says he makes a living off game day traffic but insists his business will not be reduced to a memory in 2020. “We’ll make it work. I’m determined. This is my hobby, this is my therapy, this is just a fun place to be.”

The football uncertainty comes as the local hotel industry was starting to show signs of life. The average occupancy cracked 50 percent during the last week of July for the first time since March.

“The 50 percent was a combination of youth sports, we picked up some lacrosse tournaments that actually left the Chicago land area. We already had some baseball tournaments on the books that continued, and then your seeing some wedding receptions and wedding parties creep in here and there,” Decleene explained.

Visit South Bend/Mishawaka decided to pivot. The organization is now running a digital campaign within a 200 mile radius of South Bend aimed at people living in larger cities who might feel more comfortable visiting someplace more quaint.

Year to date collections of St. Joseph County’s Innkeepers tax through the end of June we’re down 48 percent.

The six percent tax on room rentals is expected to bring in about $3 million dollars less this year compared to last.

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