University of Alabama football means more to the city of Tuscaloosa than just bringing notoriety to the school and the state with a handful of national championships.
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The team also brings in significant cash flow and it could mean a major loss should the college football season get canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Walt Maddox told reporters on a video conference call that not having a season could result in about $2 billion in lost revenue.
“It would be economically catastrophic for Tuscaloosa if there is no football season,” Maddox said, according to CBS42. “Even a mitigated football season with restricted attendance and number of ball games would have dire economic consequences.”
Maddox said the city was losing $600,000 per week when the campus was closed due to the pandemic.
“It’s about a hotel owner being able to pay his or her employees. It’s about a restaurant being able to pay their small business loan. It’s about a family trying to make their mortgage payment. It’s more than just a game,” he said, according to WBRC-TV.
According to the University of Alabama’s economic data, the impact on Tuscaloosa was projected at nearly $2 billion for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. The football program generated $175.5 million of those funds, including about $25 million per game.
Maddox said the city has $42 million in reserves for a year should the season get canceled.
“It’s important to wear your masks and practice social distancing so we don’t even have to entertain the possibility. If we can regain a football season this becomes a bump in the road. If we lose this football season this becomes a sinkhole,” he said.
The football team has already started workouts despite some players testing positive for COVID-19.