Ole Miss football fans will travel from all over the U.S.—and sometimes the world—to support the Rebels in the fall, but doesn’t an unsuccessful team lead to unsuccessful businesses in Oxford?
Jon Maynard, president and CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce, says a winning team is not as big a factor as people may think.
“When I first moved here, I was a little bit surprised at the pride people take in the idea that we may have lost a game but we won the party,” Maynard said. “I still think that ‘we won the party’ is still a great sales pitch for bringing people to Oxford.”
And why not party as the profits roll in even when the team does poorly? The Chamber found that, after studying Oxford’s economy during each football season from 1990 to 2016, wins or losses have no significant impact on business.
Maynard said the Chamber expects to see sales numbers rise now that SEC home games are underway.
“I spoke with a number of business owners that are saying things like, ‘We sure are ready to have another home game.’ But when you have as many road games in a row, it does take away from the attraction of having more and more people here in town,” Maynard said. “I anticipate that we are going to be seeing a definite uptick in the attendance as far as Grove attendance, buying food, groceries, gas, and whatever else is going to be purchased in Oxford.”
JCG Apparel associate Jenny Kate Smith says business has been booming despite so many away games.
“I think we’ve had some people come in that are just diehard, loyal fans, and they just want an Ole Miss shirt,” Smith said. “A lot of times, some people come in from out of town. So people love to wear their Ole Miss stuff.”
Although there is no data yet for this fall 2017 season, the Square is ready for the SEC games to begin and the dollars to keep flowing.
Sarah Kate Caliguire is a journalism major at Ole Miss.