It’s the first big weekend for Gator football in Gainesville, but fans aren’t flocking into town for the matchup between the Bowling Green Falcons and the Florida Gators as they have in the past.
When asked, many fans were unable to name the contending quarterbacks for this season. Since the days of Tim Tebow, Urban Meyer and national championships, there seem to be fewer fans supporting the Gators “in all types of weather.”
Traveling to Gainesville for a football weekend is not cheap. Fans must purchase tickets, gas, food, attire for the game and a place to stay. The Gainesville business community is feeling the strain of slimmer attendance.
Sergio Curry, a front desk representative for Gainesville’s Homewood Suites, said there are still rooms available for this weekend’s game. He said many fans do not want to spend the money because of the mediocre performances of the past few seasons.
Still, Curry said the hotel is expected to be full during weekends where the Gators play Southeastern Conference teams, including Kentucky and LSU. Hotel room prices will most likely be raised for those weekends to compensate for less popular game attendance.
Businesses that sell attire for gameday are also getting creative. The Gator Shop has an active online store that allows the company to reach fans across the country.
“We have a good online presence,” said Gator Shop employee Christina Rodenwoldt. “People all over the country are always really excited when it comes to football season. I have a lot of Texas customers actually, and they are very, very excited about this Texas A&M game (on Sept. 8).”
This season will be a test for Florida Gators football and for businesses in the Gainesville area.
Cassandra Vangellow edited this story online.