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Happy Valley ‘devastated’

Loss of fall sports big blow to State College businesses

STATE COLLEGE — The cancellation of the 2020 college football season will be a devastating blow to businesses in the State College area.

“It’s devastating to have football season pulled. Our concern is if this is the first domino to fall, what if the students do not return to campus?” said Edward Tubbs, chief operating officer of Hospitality Asset Management Co. The company manages several properties in the State College area, such as Days Inn by Wyndham, Super 8 by Wyndham, Quality Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and Carnegie Inn and Spa.

“Our company will be looking at the loss of multiple millions of dollars, probably in the neighborhood of $5 million for the 90 days,” Tubbs said.

Penn State football is a major economic driver.

According to the 2018-19 fiscal year NCAA Report, PSU took in about $36 million in football ticket revenue, $34 million in football media rights and $6.8 million in concessions, parking and programs. Football created $100 million in operating budget.

The seven home football weekends represent almost 16 percent of annual room revenue for Happy Valley hotels, according to Smith Travel Research.

“I think his (Tubbs) word “devastating” is the right one,” President/CEO Fritz Smith of the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau said. “In terms of visitor spending, I think our loss will be in the high 10s of millions and overall economic (including indirect) will be over $100 million.”

Tubbs said football season is the busiest time of the year for State College lodging properties.

“It sustains our market through the winter. Without that revenue, it will make it difficult for all of these businesses to survive in State College,” he said. “This is more than football. It also affects what comes with football, things like Parents Weekend. September, October and November are the prime months for us. It begins in August when the students return. Those prime months are about to begin, and they may be all but gone.”

The loss of football season will have a significant impact on Lion’s Pride, which sells a wide variety of Penn State merchandise.

“Football season makes up about 75 percent of our fall income. Without football season many businesses here may not make it,” said managing partner Steve Moyer.

McLanahan’s is divided into two parts, said manager Greg Hooper.

“Overall it will certainly hurt our stores,” Hooper said. “Our business is split into anything people can want in Penn State merchandise, and the other part as a grocery store for students. If the students are still here, they will need groceries, so that side will be OK. Our other side is based on having six or seven home football games when people spend hundreds of dollars on merchandise. We will probably be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars for sure.”

Curt Schulman, director of operations for Hotel State College, which includes the Corner Room Restaurant, said the loss of football is a massive blow.

However, Schulman supports measures being taken by Penn State and State College Borough Council.

“Personally, I hate not seeing football season,” he said. “I believe what the borough and Penn State are doing to prioritize the health of the local community and the students is the right thing to do and what we should be focusing on. We are not overstaffed. We are just trying to find creative ways to break even.”

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.

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