Eugene, OR - Leisure travel has been a lifeline for the hospitality industry in Lane County throughout the COVID pandemic, however sports events have provided a needed boost in spending at area restaurants and lodging properties. Track and field events at Hayward field led to record room tax receipts in June and now University of Oregon home football games are bringing fans who are eager to enjoy a college football experience and support local businesses.
"Spending for a home football game weekend ranges from $6 - $8 million," noted Travel Lane County's Vice President of Stakeholder Relations Andy Vobora. "The hospitality industry has suffered more than most sectors during the pandemic, so we are excited to see our partners filling rooms and restaurant seats with fans. Vaccine and masking requirements, put in place by the University, provide fans a safe outdoor experience that will sustain many local businesses throughout the fall."
While staffing shortages continue to challenge restaurants and lodging properties, adjustments have been made to accommodate the influx of fans for football weekends. Ronda Perkins, owner of Trev's Sports Bar & Grill on Franklin Boulevard, has experienced the economic boost and notes, "Trev’s has struggled throughout the pandemic because many large gatherings at Matthew Knight Arena have be canceled or postponed. We saw a real uptick in traffic with the return of track and field and looked forward to the home football games hosting fans. We weren’t disappointed. Sales were up by double digit amounts over a typical weekend and we couldn’t be more excited about the coming home games.”
Down the street at the Holiday Inn Express - Eugene, rooms were sold out and the prospect of six more home game weekends has Inncline Hotel's Director of Operations Sarah Smith very excited. "We were very hopeful for this fall football season. We were incredibly supportive of the University’s decision to require vaccinations or the negative COVID-19 test, and wear masks to gain entry. Our staff is excited to welcome these guests into our hotels. We require masks for both staff and guests, we still have our plexiglass barriers, social distancing markers and sanitation procedures to ensure a healthy safe stay for fans. Without fans in the stands we would decrease our projected revenue by more than 1/2 for the next 3-months. That means challenges in continuing to offer good, safe jobs within our community. Our ownership is hopeful that this football season is only the beginning and that we will be able to continue offering accommodations for visitors throughout the winter sports season as well."
As the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region continues to see residents and visitors travel for leisure activities, sports events and business meetings, our industry partners will continue following safety and health guidelines in order to provide safe experiences. Residents and visitors are encouraged to do their part by following all required event guidelines. Additionally, let's remember to treat our frontline workers with patience, respect and kindness as they serve us.