KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's been a busy week at Gus's Good Times Deli on the University of Tennessee strip.
"We are kind of a game day tradition," said Aaron Hale, who co-owns the business. "We have had a few generations now of people coming through and they have made it part of their coming to the games."
There is no bigger game day than Tennessee vs. Florida so it has been all hands on deck to make sure they are ready to serve their customers. Despite all of the craziness, Hale said he and his staff have been looking forward to football weekend for months.
"There is a certain, maybe, magic, when there are expectations with football and people come to campus that do not normally come to campus and it helps everybody," he said.
Michele Hummel, executive director of the Downtown Knoxville Alliance, said that magic will turn into big spending at Knoxville businesses.
"The further people come the more they are going to spend, as you would expect," Hummel said. "Our hotels typically stay booked months in advance of these games and we will see a lot of people come in to see us, spend the nights to eat down at our restaurants or bars, and then also do shopping."
A UT study from 2016 shows retail, food and beverage saw an impact of more than $45 million on football weekend. Hummel said they are hoping for even better numbers this time around.
"Coming off of COVID, people are ready to get out and our businesses are ready to start serving them," she said.
Hummel said, though, the effect of football weekends can go way beyond those three days; it can prevent raising taxes and it might even inspire people to move to Knoxville.
"You hear a lot of stories of people who come into town for a game or a wedding or whatever, see the city and hit has a great impact on them," she said.