Expert says Baton Rouge economy faces $50M loss if LSU football season is canceled or fans are excluded

Updated: Jul. 8, 2020 at 7:04 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Bars, restaurants, and hotels in Baton Rouge are staring down the barrel of another major financial hit if the LSU football season is canceled or played without fans.

No decision has been made by the university or the Southeastern Conference. However, many business owners are starting to plan for major losses in the event there is no LSU football.

“We could lose 50% of our business on that Thursday to Sunday period,” Neal Hendrick, who owns Zippy’s Burrito, explains. “That’s the best estimates we have now are a 50% loss.”

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Economist Loren Scott says the Baton Rouge economy could face a $50 million hit. He says that loss is equitable to retailers in the area losing the Christmas holiday.

Those hits do not stop at businesses though. Scott says LSU could lose big as well.

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“You’re talking probably about $30 million in football tickets alone,” Scott explains. “Parking probably another $3 million, concessions another $2.5 million at least. It’s a huge thing to their budget not to have football.”

Civic organizations that rely on the 12% cut from concession sales would also be affected if the season was cancelled or played without fans in the stands. Scott says those organizations could lose upwards of $1 million.

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The service industry is preparing for the worst hit, one in which Hendrick says he does not know if many will survive.

“Let’s just be honest about it,” Hendrick says. “If there’s no LSU football season some people will not be in business in January because of it.”

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