Reporting David Sutta
MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) – At SunLife Stadium, the tents are going up for the Orange Bowl and Discover National Championship. Already, Northern Illinois University and Florida State University are in town preparing to shine in the national spotlight next Tuesday.
Outside, a handful of people gathered to watch both practices Friday.
“It’s just been amazing to be here and in the Seminole spirit,” Amy Maybry told us. She came all the way from Los Angeles for a wedding this weekend; the Seminoles are a bonus.
“I’m probably going to cry if not more today seeing them practice than at the actual wedding,” she said.
Across town, Steve Goehl isn’t shedding tears but he’s pretty hyped too. The former NIU player still holds the record for most touchdowns in a game. He’s watched his team travel to bowl games before… but not like this.
“I called my daughter back home and it was 22 degrees. It’s a great plus,” Goehl said. He believes the game will likely serve his alma mater well as they go forward trying to recruit new classes.
Both Orange bowl teams, though, are having a hard time moving their allotment of tickets.
Florida State’s issue is who they are playing: the matchup is not exactly marquee.
Meanwhile, Northern Illinois’s issue is the size of its school, the distance to travel and the cost. The school actually gave away 7,500 free tickets to students.
Regardless of how much of the fan base shows up, it will likely pale in comparison to the game just a few days after the Orange Bowl.
For the second time in South Florida’s history, the area will host the Orange Bowl and Discover Championship game within days of each other. The last time that happened was four years ago, when officials estimate about $200 million was brought into the local economy. Such a two-game punch may be the ticket again.
During last year’s Orange Bowl, hotels were 83% occupancy…this weekend it’s up to 92%. So far, it’s holding at 92% for next weekend as well.
“By all accounts it is going to be a number that will surpass the $200 million number from four years ago. It’s going to be great for the area,” Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms told CBS4.
He said they are totally out of tickets – not for the Orange Bowl but for the national championship.
“We wish we had two SunLife Stadiums to account for all the people who are calling,” Poms quipped.
The secondary ticket market reflects that. On Stubhub Friday afternoon, the cheapest Orange Bowl ticket is $41, while “nosebleed” seats for the Discover Championship are climbing over $1100.
By kickoff, ticket sales could be record-setting.
“We are here to spend money. No doubt about it,” Goehl said.
With three out of four teams visiting out of state, South Florida will likely benefit quite well.