With the end of basketball, baseball, and hockey seasons, and as football (both the US and European kind) are coming to grips with the impact of COVID on their bottom line, we are seeing more scary numbers coming out. But it is important to remember that there is an entire economy built around game days, especially in college towns. I always remind people that the University of Nebraska's stadium is the third biggest city on the state when the Huskers are playing at home, and businesses have understandably adapted to this over the years. As the sports economy slowly comes back, and as fans return to stadiums, much attention will need to be paid to these related businesses when we begin talking about the recovery.
On a typical fall Saturday when the Nebraska Cornhuskers play at home, cars waving red flags and banners would be backed up in front of the Baker family candy factory along Highway 6 leading into Lincoln. It is a route with more grain elevators than gas stations. A scenic alternative to the 70,000-car parking lot that can be Interstate 80 from Omaha. And for the Baker family, it meant more than 3,000 customers stocking up on Baker's signature gourmet chocolates each weekend the Huskers were in town. Without Huskers football, sales during those normally busy periods have been down by 80%, said general manager Todd Baker.