It isn’t any secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has put an economic strain on small businesses nationally and locally. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this is due to a myriad of different factors that cause people to forgo frivolous money spending and, in turn, limit the circulation of commerce within a local economy.
According to an article published by the Lincoln Journal Star, Nebraska Athletics made $136.2 million in revenues during the 2019 fiscal year. Of that revenue, almost 71% came from football alone. This profit is reflected in local businesses that football fans spend money at before, during and after a game, generating a large chunk of economic circulation for the local economy.
With the Big Ten confirming a limited 2020 football season, small businesses are able to reap some of the benefits of the economical stimulation that sports events procure. However, because of the limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, there will still be a fiscal loss for some businesses that rely on Husker football revenue.
The possible profit from Husker fans comes as a relief to many small businesses that rely on traffic and sales propagated by football season. Along with the economic concerns brought on by the pandemic, there are also some safety concerns with the possibility of business uptick at local restaurants and bars.
“There are always concerns,” said Buzzard Billy’s general manager Stephan Engel. “Winters in the Haymarket are slow, and football season helps us build those sales in October and November and then kind of sit on that and hibernate during the winter.”
Engels went on to express reservations about how health and safety concerns are taken into account when planning for even a limited football season.
“The worst thing about Husker Football is that you’re scared if they don’t do a season, but you’re also scared if they do.” Engel said, “We’ll follow social distancing protocols and maybe have door guides to maintain safety, but it’s definitely a toss up on how bars and restaurants respond.”
Another small business that is feeling the heat is the well-known sports bar Brewsky’s, located near North 8th and P Street. According to Brewsky’s general manager Ryan Parks, even though there will be a limited football season, small businesses will still experience loss due to the reduction of travel and lack of in-person game attendance.
“So far Big Ten has said that there won’t be any fans allowed in the stands, and that means there is going to be less travel and that means less business in general,” Parks said. “We have a pretty big capacity, and we have social distancing in place and signs that uphold the mask mandates. Overall, we’re just following the guidelines and trying to keep everything as safe as possible.”
Despite the varying degrees of worry that may or may not be affecting local businesses, Parks said that any kind of season will help improve business and sales, thus helping the local economy get through this historic year.
“I still think [a shortened season will] bring extra business,” Parks said. “While I think things will never be normal, the season will help kind of usher in a new normal.”