Merchants Welcome Athletics Windfall

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COLUMBIA - According to a recent study, the University of Missouri Athletic Department generated more than $147 million for the city of Columbia in the fiscal 2010-2011 year. And the study predicts that number will go up to more than $184 million for the fiscal year 2012-2013 as the school joins the SEC.

When the city welcomed its first SEC football game with Georgia, Johanna Cox, the general manager of Kaldi's Coffee, said she felt the big impact from people who came to the city for the game.

"No matter which team you cheer for, you still want your coffee," said Cox. "You want in the morning. It's gonna be chilly tonight. People are gonna be coming in to get their latte before they go down to the game."

Cox said she has seen people came to Missouri three days ahead of the game. Those people generate revenue for the city by visiting restaurants, coffee shops, stores, etc.

On streets, people who wore black and gold as well as red and black were everywhere. They sat outside Starbucks, talking with each other, bought food and drinks for tailgating, and walked around downtown, enjoying their afternoon time.

Tailgating before football games has become a tradition in Columbia. Groups of people gathered, eating, drinking, chatting and playing games.

Cars always park along Stadium Boulevard hours before games start. More than 60 thousand fans also lined up for hours just to get into the stadium.

Kristi Ray, executive vice president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said football definitely plays a very important role in the city's economy, especially after the team joined the SEC.

"As far as tickets sold, as far as hotel rooms, there's a much greater presence even of more Mizzou fans," Ray said.

Ray said it's not just football. Men's basketball, women's basketball, other sports, and non-program specific events also generate incomes for the city.

To look at the whole study and report, click below: