TAMPA - The South Carolina Gamecocks football team arrived in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon. They will take on the Michigan Wolverines in the upcoming Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. Local businesses hope to cash in on the game.
When you walk into Mom's Place Restaurant in Tampa, you can't miss the signature New York Yankees and Buccaneers pictures. But owner Peter Berdos says there's plenty of room there for two more teams, when South Carolina takes on Michigan.
"It's going to be like a Black Friday. People waiting like Best Buy outside to get in. It's going to be 6 o'clock in the morning. You're going to see 30 to 40 people waiting outside."
Berdos says his restaurant will bring in 40% more business on game day. He puts a lot of stock in big blue fans, who he says travel well. Berdos said, "Every time it involves some team from Michigan or Chicago or Green Bay, always have a lot of fans here."
Outback Bowl officials predict 25,000 to 35,000 people will come to the Bay area from out of state. They expect those visitors to spend an estimated $30 million.
Jim McVay, president and CEO of the Outback Bowl, said, "Bowl fans are a hearty group. They like to have fun. They go out. They want to go to dinner. They want to go to the night clubs. They're enjoying Busch Gardens. They're enjoying the aquarium. They're a happy group of people."
That's welcome news for managers at the Howard Johnson hotel on Dale Mabry. Already, 85% of the rooms are booked for around game time.
Obed Diaz is with Howard Johnson and has been helping the location on Dale Mabry, in Tampa, get ready for the game. He says the hotel is offering special deals. "We have two days, Sunday and Monday, to take advantage of, and then we've also reduced the rates for Friday and Saturday, so they can make a whole weekend."
The Outback Bowl takes place at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, at 1 pm.