ECU fan enthusiasm helps businesses, tickets sold out for Saturday game

ECU fan enthusiasm helps businesses, tickets sold out for Saturday game
Published: Sep. 2, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Tickets are sold out for the ECU versus NC State game tomorrow, meaning just over 50,000 people will be filling the stands at Dowdy-Ficklen stadium. Football fans are filling the streets of Greenville and bringing an energy the city hasn’t seen in years.

Today WITN talked to fans, business owners and city leaders about their optimism heading into this season.

“I’d say the hotels are about 90% booked at this point right now,” explained Visit Greenville NC President and CEO Andrew Schmidt. “It’s about people coming together and enjoying the game; it’s about people coming together and supporting our local businesses. It does my heart a lot of good to see it return to that way.”

A return of not just enthusiasm but also visitor spending.

“Two years ago, we dipped dramatically from like $279 million to $180 million in tourism expenditures. This past year, we got back up to about $257 million, so we’re climbing back, and weekends like this are what really generates that momentum to really get back to where we were pre-pandemic for tourism spending,” Schmidt said.

That’s great news for not just hotels, but places like University Book Exchange - a store in Uptown Greenville where you can find just about anything Pirate.

“The Pirate Nation is back,” said store owner Don Edwards. Edwards said that occasion can turn into real dollars and cents.

“The enormity of a winning program - it can double or triple your business. It’s that important. It’s just the way it is. Everybody loves a winner. We have great fans anyway, but when we win, more and more fans come out,” he explained.

Fans are motivated by a passion for their team, and a rivalry like no other.

“I was looking at these t-shirts right here. I like this one,” said Gage Moore, while gesturing to a “Beat State” shirt at University Book Exchange. “I wanna make her sister jealous,” he said, pointing to Gabie Rysdon who was alongside him. “She’s an NC State fan.”

That game starts at noon tomorrow, so you’ll want to be careful when driving in Greenville around that time. Parking lots open bright and early at 7 a.m.

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