Purdue sports' economic impact on Greater Lafayette looms amid pandemic

As a different look for fall sports at Purdue looms, area hotels and other businesses are preparing financially for a lighter season.

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 4:55 PM
Updated: Jul 15, 2020 6:27 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Sports are slowly trying to regain traction while in some areas of the country, COVID-19 continues to surge. 

Right here in Tippecanoe County, Purdue athletics, namely the football program, account for a sizable portion of the area's yearly income.

"Seven home games usually brings us conservatively 20 million dollars to the community," said CEO of Visit Lafayette and West Lafayette Jo Wade. "Two to three million dollars per game."

The Big Ten Conference has already announced a conference-only model for all fall sports this coming school year, which means it's more than likely 

"There will definitely be an economic impact, and that will not be a plus, it will be a minus, a negative and those are realities that we are going to have to deal with," said Purdue's Director of Athletics Mike Bobinski. 

The potential financial hit not only effects those who work in the department he leads, but business like hotels and restaurants around the area. 

"On a home game, we bring in over 100 thousand dollars in a single weekend," said Holiday Inn City Centre General Manager Patrick Bailey. That figure accounts for just one of the hotels Bailey manages. 

Bailey also operates the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in West Lafayette, where the visiting football team general stays on a home-game weekend at Purdue. 

"What we are doing to prepare is not focus on the negative, not focus on no football, or no fans, but focus on when fans do come back," said Bailey. 

His outlook is mirrored by many others around the community. 

"We have to get through this and we have to do this the safest way we can, so we are excited that they are looking at potential for football," said Wade. 

Bobinski mentioned that a decision on what the college football season will look like, even without non-conference games, will be made in the coming month. 

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