The Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau is estimating that the 2012 NAIA National Championship football game between Morningside College (Iowa) and Marian University (Indiana) generated approximately $1.1 million for the local economy of Floyd County.
Marian defeated Morningside 30-27 in an overtime thriller Thursday night.
The economic impact numbers are down slightly from previous years, a fact that GRCVB Director Lisa Smith attributes to the weekday scheduling of the game to accommodate the CBS national broadcast.
“The exposure provided by national media coverage is priceless,” said Smith.
“We noticed that hotel stays were shortened by a day or two,” Smith said. “I’m still very pleased because it’s still $1.1 million we wouldn’t have without the contract.”
“For the first time in our history of hosting the game, we had two new teams — one being within a very drivable distance,” said
Ann Hortman, GRCVB sports and events coordinator and Rome Host Committee coordinator for championship week.
Morningside has a student population of 1,200, and Marian 2,200, and both were well represented in Rome in spite of the fact that the game was played on a weeknight for the first time. Rome was also a closer drive for many of the parents and other fans of the two colleges.
“We did get an extra overnight from the teams, which before we’ve not had,” Smith said.
The event is estimated to have generated at least 1,600 hotel room nights in Rome from Monday, Dec. 10, to Friday, Dec. 14. Teams are housed in the Holiday Inn Express and the Jameson Inn. Fans and officials were spread out over the community’s 18 hotels and motels.
“We did have lots of folks shopping, I saw lots of their colors on Broad Street when they were here,” Smith said.
The GRCVB estimated that more than 2,000 out-of-town visitors traveled into Rome for Thursday evening’s game.
John Schroeder at Schroeder’s New Deli, 406 Broad St., said he felt like his crowds associated with the NAIA game were down from the past couple of years.
“They were new to Rome and I think when they don’t know a town they tend to go to places they’ve heard of like Applebee’s or Chili’s,” Schroeder said. “The few that came in were wonderful and absolutely loved the attention they got from Rome.”
Jay Shell said he had a lot of Morningside College tailgaters at his Brewhouse Music and Grill, 325 Broad St., before the championship game last Thursday. As a result, his daily business was about twice that of a normal Thursday. Aside from that, Shell said that business was about normal at his 333 on Broad restaurant.
During the past five years, the NAIA national football championship has pumped well more than $6 million into the local economy. Rome and Floyd County will host the NAIA title game again next December, but the event’s future beyond that is uncertain.