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MIAMI (CBS4) – South Florida is preparing to host the BCS Championship game for the first time since 2009.
The national title match-up pits Alabama against Notre Dame at Sun Life Stadium Monday, January 7.
While the game is still a few days away, local businesses are already profiting from the influx of fans.
“It’s just great for business,” said Alex Tonarelli, the general manager at The Loews Miami Beach Hotel. “The city is going to be busy. The restaurants will be full. The hotels will be full.”
The Loews is already at capacity for this weekend. Tonarelli said the pool deck has been packed for days.
“This is kind of the mini Super Bowl for Miami,” said Mabel De Beunza with the Loews. “You’ve got people here. They’re here to spend money. They’re here to have a really great time.”
What’s a great time without great food? On Thursday night, the Fighting Irish feasted at Fogo de Chao on Miami Beach.
Other restaurants like Finnegan’s Way on South Beach are also hoping to see a nice revenue bump.
“We expect a lot of people,” manager Leo Fong said. “We’re prepared. We got a lot of beer and a lot of food. We’re ready.”
The last time South Florida hosted the Orange Bowl and the BCS Championship game in the same year was back in January 2009. Both events generated about $200 million for the local economy.
With a few days until the big game, fans are figuring out where to check out all the action.
“We’re just going to hit up one of the local bars,” Brett Stegall said. “Watch it on one of the big screens.” Stegall is visitng from Fort Myers. He said he’s an Ole Miss fan, but will cheer for Alabama, the SEC team in Monday’s game.
“We’re planning on someone giving us 4 tickets,” Kris Ohlson said. She is in town with her son for a cruise. Her son was born in South Bend, Indiana and was hoping to see the big game in person.
One man who was here four years ago says he remembered seeing Florida Gators and Oklahoma Sooners fans all over the place. Amir Morgan said he thought there were fewer fans this time around.
“We were actually really surprised,” Morgan said. “We thought we would see a lot more.”
Miami Beach Police will step up patrols through the weekend. Ocean Drive will shut down to vehicle traffic on Saturday morning.