Organizers of Saturday's nationally televised high school football doubleheader in Rock Hill are more than pleased with the event, but the economic impact could fall short of tourism officials' hopes.
"It was exceptional," said Bennish Brown, executive director of York County's convention and visitor's bureau. "The investment was a lot of time. There were some costs. We're trying to put that together."
ESPN cameras and thousands of high school football fans filled District Three Stadium over the weekend. On Friday, Rock Hill High came back from a 14-point deficit to beat Greer 29-28 in overtime. On Saturday, ESPN televised two games - first Byrnes' 14-0 loss to Hoover, Ala., then Northwestern High's 42-20 victory over rival South Pointe High.
In the weeks leading up to the games, organizers touted benefits of "national exposure" and potential profits from out-of-town visitors.
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Figures are fuzzy, because organizers are still counting.
With 9,500 tickets sold, Northwestern and South Pointe will split the profits, which, after expenses, could net each $20,000, Northwestern Athletic Director Bill Warren said.
Northwestern's booster club could see a windfall from concession stand sales.
"Every time I looked up, they were packed," Rock Hill schools facilities manager Brian Vaughan said.
But profits for the area overall could be less than expected.
That's because the more than 200 people traveling with Hoover High rented hotel rooms in Charlotte, which means Rock Hill won't see proceeds from hospitality or accommodations taxes. Paragon Marketing Group, a company working with ESPN, made the team's travel arrangements, Hoover High Athletic Director Myra Miles said.
Rock Hill didn't have enough rooms available, Miles said. "We have a huge group. And when you've got big guys, you don't want to put four in a room."
That was a letdown, Rock Hill tourism administrator Mark Sexton said.
"When we found out they were staying in Charlotte, we reached out to them," Sexton said. But the team's accommodations had already been made. "We were counting on those folks to come," he said.
"Was it a disappointment? Yes it was," Brown said. "But we picked up Hoover fans."
Brown and Sexton said they talked with several people from Alabama who spent the night in Rock Hill and liked it.
Organizers plan to meet on Sept. 9 to evaluate the process.
Overall, "we felt like it was a tremendous success," said Sexton, who also sits on the county visitors bureau board of directors.
The momentum started at a Friday pep rally that tourism officials estimate drew 2,000 people, including Hoover cheerleaders.
"Our cheerleaders were made to feel very welcome," Miles said. "We are still talking about the hospitality of the Rock Hill community."
13 fans treated for heat issues
As temperatures topped 90 degrees Saturday afternoon, 13 fans at the nationally-televised high school football doubleheader in Rock Hill received medical attention for "heat-related" issues, according to Piedmont Medical Center.
Most had symptoms of heat exhaustion such as dizziness and weakness, PMC spokeswoman Sharon Harmon said.
The spectators were examined in a medic trailer parked at District Three Stadium. Two were taken to the hospital, Harmon said.
Organizers expected it to be a long hot afternoon and created a "cool zone" beneath the bleachers, where shade and misting fans offered respite.