Kentucky, Tech fans 'spending' holiday weekend in Jacksonville
New Year's Eve visitors a win for Jacksonville businesses
Tailgaters prepared eggs, bacon and pancakes instead of the usual burgers and brats, as they arrived early for the TaxSlayer Bowl.
"You've got to keep the grill on," tailgater Bill Pollackoy said. "Try to keep a little bit of grease on there, and just keep the food flowing."
Pollackov and his family were some of the first in the parking lot Saturday morning, equipped with food, drinks and a rarely seen tailgate item in Jacksonville: a fire pit.
With temperatures starting in the mid-30s, it was colder than in Atlanta or Lexington, the home cities of both teams.
"I love it," Pollackoy said. "We are all from up north, so we like when we get a little bit of cold weather. It's fun to get the kids bundled up and come out here and have a good time."
Kentucky fans lined the gates, waiting for their team to make it to the stadium ahead of the 11 a.m. kickoff.
In a parking lot covered with blue and white, Kentucky fans and only a few sightings of Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket fans, the time and temperature had mixed reviews for some.
"You get home earlier," Kentucky fan Mark Walker said, but added, "Too cold."
TaxSlayer Bowl a win for Jacksonville businesses
Despite not having local favorite in the game, the annual bowl game itself is a year-end boon for area hotels and restaurants because of thousands of fans in town with wallets in hand and money to spend.
“So, two tickets…$120, plus the hotel. So, we’re looking at $600-$700 for the whole weekend," Kentucky fan Paschal Glavinos said. "We’re going the efficient route. Obviously, we can do it better. But, that’s just the way it goes this time, I think.”
Glavinos is in town to support Kentucky in this year’s Tax Slayer Bowl. News4Jax found Glavino and his friends at Intuition Ale Works’ new location, just blocks from EverBank Field, where the game is played.
“Everybody does really well in this location," Intuition manager Sammie Bass said. "I know when we were off King Street, we didn’t do nearly as well in sales as we do here. Bartenders make really good money and the tap room does well.”
Bass said sales are up at local restaurant Black Sheep, which provides food at their location. But, those aren’t the only businesses winning. Hampton Inn manager Quentin Jones said they only have two rooms left for Saturday night.
“For us, what it does is that for us, for the last quarter, it’s a huge boon. Especially for the last few days of the year," Jones said. "It helps us to make up those budgets that we were afraid of not making, and just bringing in some last-minute revenue.”
Fans like Glanvinos will be in town from Friday to Sunday. That means finding something to do after the game, which means spending more money in town.
“We plan on going down to the Jacksonville Landing tonight," Glavinos said. "You know, I don’t really know exactly what we’re going to do. Try to find a good bar, a good place to hang out to watch the ball drop and celebrate the New Year.”