By Amye Anderson
UCBJ Managing Editor
COOKEVILLE – Early estimates predicted 30-40,000 high school football players and fans would trek to Cookeville as 18 teams vied for the state championship title in this year’s Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) BlueCross Bowl.
But, exactly how many stayed and how much they spent while here isn’t clear just yet.
“The weekend was successful,” said Zach Ledbetter, Vice President of Visitor Development with the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau. “We’re so glad the weather cooperated!”
The event has been known to rake in $2.5-3 million in the past – from visitor spending seen at local hotels, restaurants, retail stores and in gas purchases.
However, an economic impact study wasn’t conducted during this year’s event.
“We didn’t conduct an economic impact study this year, so we aren’t able to share any hard data in that format,” Ledbetter said. “We’re still finalizing attendance numbers as well.”
Instead, the group plans to send out surveys to event sponsors, partners and others in order to gain insight on increased traffic and sales experienced during the three-day event.
As officials work to collect information to determine the economic impact of the event, Ledbetter says the invaluable media exposure and marketing reach given to Cookeville and Tennessee Tech University during the BlueCross Bowl is something to note.
“All types of media from around the state talk about the ‘Road to Cookeville’ throughout the season, especially the few weeks leading up to the championships,” Ledbetter said. “Then, you have all the coverage given to the community throughout the championship weekend which is also factored into the mix. It’s a huge win for us!”
Since 2009, Cookeville and Tennessee Tech have hosted the championship games. In January, a four-year extension was granted to Cookeville and Putnam County to continue hosting the annual championship games until 2020 after representatives from various city and county entities made a presentation to the TSSAA board.
The bid package presented by local officials offered up the same financial guarantee as recent years – $253,000 – and promised continued facility enhancements to Tucker Stadium.
Look for a breakdown of the economic impact of the event at www.ucbjournal.com in the coming weeks.