(Hammond, LA) — Southeastern Louisiana University fall athletics is facing something that has never taken place before. With the Southland conference postponing all fall athletics, it leaves some uncertainty with how businesses around Southeastern’s campus will be impacted financially.
“The university to us is the main engine that runs this community,” Crescent Bar owner Rickie Brocato said.
Crescent Bar was opened in 1938 and third generation business owner Brocato has never dealt with something like this in his 43 years.
“I have no track record, no baseline to go by to deal with this,” Brocato said. “We’ve been closed in our bar here longer during this pandemic than in the 82 year history of the business.”
The Southland conference is not exactly on the same level as the Big10 when it comes to the revenue brought in by home football games. However, businesses in Hammond will take some sort of financial hit because of the loss of college athletics. In an article written by Andrew Brandt of SportsIllustrated researching similar regions in Big10 venues, the money brought in from college football is not small for these local businesses:
Penn State (State College): $130 million per season
Michigan (Ann Arbor): $122 million per season
Wisconsin (Madison): $16 million per home game
Iowa (Iowa City): $14.5 million per home game
Nebraska (Lincoln): $12 million per home game
While some businesses have already begun to feel the impact of no fall athletics, to others it is business as usual.
“I do not think (the loss of fall athletics) will impact downtown businesses a lot,” Blackened Brew and Pour House owner Anthony Donze said. “As far as right now, our biggest concern is abiding by this mandate with Covid-19.”
Although Donze has not seen the impact of the postponement of fall sports, he has made more food and drink specials available for guests.
“I think we can possibly make up for (any losses) in quantity,” Donze said. “I see a lot of restaurants that battle each other on who can give the best specials.”
Our Mom’s Restaurant and Bar is also taking part in offering food specials during this time.
“On Tuesdays we have student discounts, you get 20 percent off for your meal,” Our Mom’s employee Matthew Matherne said. “That is also a big help that brings in people from Southeastern.”
The lack of fall sports also is affecting the alumni committee. It thrives when football season comes around because that is when a majority of alumni come back to campus and donate.
“Not having college football will take the wind out of our sails,” president of Southeastern’s Alumni Association Board of Directors Patrick Brazan said. “Some folks you will miss out on because of the social aspect, but most of your donors and people that give back won’t be deterred if this is only for one season.”