With the cancellation of sporting events such as the spring football game, home softball and baseball games, plus the cancellation of all NCAA Tournaments, the coronavirus will end up being extremely costly for the Clemson Athletic Department or any university or college that competes at the highest of levels.
But COVID-19 is not just affecting Clemson athletics, it is affecting everyone and everything in the small South Carolina city that has just 14,000 residents when school is not in session.
With all the major sporting events and other university events canceled, the city of Clemson could lose close to $10 million in revenue. That’s $10 million the city will not be able to recoup, either.
“If they cancel everything at the university through the end of the semester, that is a minimum, I would think,” said Susan Cohen from the Clemson Area Chamber of Commerce.
Some of the area hotels stand to lose about $200,000 in lost revenue from March and April knowing what they know right now. Generally, March and April are big months for the city of Clemson restaurants, stores and hotels.
Besides the spring game, Clemson also hosts rowing events that come into the Clemson area to compete. Cohen said 33 collegiate rowing teams were expected to come in and compete during the month of March, bringing with them close to 1,500 athletes who would be staying in Clemson hotels and eating at Clemson area restaurants for a week at a time.
The revenue the rowing teams were expected to bring in was around $3 million to the local economy. The city was expecting the spring game weekend to bring in about $250,000 for the area.
“If they are spending the night, then they are eating out probably two meals,” Cohen said. “They probably have bought something in town, like a souvenir. They may have forgotten their eye drops or toothbrush or whatever and gone into the CVS. They probably drove far enough where they need some gas.
“So, the ripple of affect across the rest of the community … that is why in the tourism industry you hear us talk about heads in beds. Because if you have a head in the bed, you have a lot of other expenditures out in the community and that is where that bigger economic impact comes from.”
There will not be many heads in the beds at Clemson this spring and the impact of that could be anywhere near $7 million to the local hotels alone. Due to the ripple effect, Cohen feels some area businesses will not survive the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is a huge hit for an independent businessperson,” she said. “That’s why, and I don’t want it to sound like it is only restaurant and bar, because everybody is thinking that way because of what the Governor did (on Tuesday). We are, of course, encouraging everyone to visit the local businesses.
“If people will just order out, almost all of these guys are making special accommodations … you don’t even have to touch them, and they don’t have to touch your money or touch your credit card. You can give it to them over the phone or through their app. They will bring you a bag out to the car. If you just keep trying to give them business.”
As for the retail stores, Cohen asks that people please shop online. If they are local, they will bring the purchased items out to the car or offer free shipping.
“I am telling people that a lot of these guys are still doing end of seasons sales, but when the fall and winter rolls around and you are buying Christmas presents, those things are going to be back in season, so buy them now when it is helping these guys stay in business and you have done your Christmas shopping,” Cohen said. “It sounds kind of crazy, but it is true. Buy gift cards to give to people, buy things on sale. Please don’t go to Amazon.com. They are sitting pretty right now. You just need to be looking at your local people.”
Clemson fans now is the time to support the local businesses.
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