Missouri fans forced to spread out for bowl

Friday, December 26, 2003

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Many Arkansas and Missouri fans won't be staying in Shreveport or Bossier City on Dec. 31, the night of the 2003 Independence Bowl.

They'll be lodged in hotels and motels in other north Louisiana cities and towns, such as Ruston, Natchitoches, Mansfield and Minden.

A number of the Shreveport-Bossier City rooms were booked for New Year's Eve, a big draw for casino patrons, before the bowl participants were announced.

Glen Krupica, Independence Bowl executive director, predicts the game will be a sellout and draw 28,000 out-of-state visitors staying an average of two nights. That equates to an estimated economic impact of $17 million to $20 million.

The 1999 bowl, in comparison, generated more than $30 million, including hotel and motel taxes, restaurant revenues and sales taxes.

"The expected economic impact is down this year, in part, because in 1999, we had more than 32,000 visitors who stayed an average of three days compared to this year where we are expecting about 28,000 staying an average of two days," Krupica said.

Most local hotel rooms, ranging from $109 to $129 per night, have been booked for months for New Year's Eve. The last local rooms were snatched up earlier this week. The overflow will go to nearby cities and towns, said Jennifer Adams, vice president of communications for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau.

"If the game was not on New Year's Eve, the local hotel market would have been able to accommodate everybody," Krupica said. "But in this case, the economic impact will expand out more geographically to surrounding areas because we've maxed out our hotel capacity."

Shreveport-Bossier City has added more than 2,000 hotel rooms in the last three years, for a total of 8,200. But about the same number of rooms belong to the casino hotels, which book up early for major holidays.

Hotels and motels require a two-night minimum during special events. Room rates vary by hotel and by event.

There are only 50,000 tickets for the game. Each team received 12,000 and the remainder are being sold through the local Independence Bowl office. Krupica said there are a little more than 1,000 local tickets left.

The bowl game's economic impact dipped in 2000 to $27.5 million, partly because of renovations taking place at Independence Stadium. The following year it dropped sharply to $13.7 million, mainly because fewer people were traveling after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Local hotels saw a drop of as much as 40 percent in fourth-quarter revenues, according to Garrett Kruithof, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Hotel and Lodging Association.

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