GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Excitement is now ramping up as the East Carolina University football team gets ready to take on the N.C. State Wolfpack on Saturday at noon in a nationally-televised game on ESPN.
Locally, businesses have been busy getting ready. With Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium almost completely sold out, thousands of fans are expected to make the trip to Greenville for the game. That means big money and an economic boost for the city, one of several expected during the football campaign.
Andrew Schmidt is the President and CEO of VisitGreenvilleNC. He said he expects waves of both Pirates and Wolfpack fans to come out to watch the game.
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“The first game is always a big game, so there’s a lot of different things that will really affect whether a game is really well attended,” Schmidt said. “Obviously, it’s the first game, so everybody is really excited. The game time is certainly a good time for a lot of people to be able to get to the game, so we do think that this will be the biggest game that we’ve seen in quite some time.”
Some hotels have been booked eight to 12 weeks out, every weekend through November. Front Desk Office Manager at Country Inn and Suites, Francesca Johnson, said the ECU football season is a huge source of bookings for the hotel and the fans made reservations months in advance for home games.
“They booked from last year. They booked months in advance because they know it’s going to be like showtime. They have to have those rooms ready,” Johnson said.
Several restaurants say they are hopeful and ready for big crowds, especially after the game.
“It’s huge. It’s a really big deal, especially for businesses that are near the university and the Uptown-Downtown area,” said Matthew Scully, owner and manager of The Scullery. “It’s really a big deal for us.
“Not only does it generate business that day, but it gets people aware of the things that are going on in Greenville, so they’ll come back for different business trips and other reasons to come, so it’s a really big deal for the city.”