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We’re just a couple of weeks away from the 2017 home football opener as the University of Notre Dame prepares to take on Temple on Sept. 2. There is plenty of excitement surrounding this season with the recent unveiling of Notre Dame’s nearly completed Campus Crossroads project, a $400 million endeavor to update Notre Dame Stadium and integrate three new academic buildings into it.
There will be seven opportunities this season to experience one of the best game day experiences in all of college football right here in South Bend.
On Sunday, Fighting Irish fans will be offered a sneak peek of the renovated stadium during the New & Gold Game. It will include a scrimmage by the football team, a performance by the Notre Dame Marching Band and participation from the Notre Dame cheerleaders. Self-guided tours will be offered for portions of the newly adjoined Duncan Student Center (west side of the stadium), Corbett Family Hall (east), and O’Neill Hall (south).
The Campus Crossroads project has been a multiyear construction project, and contractors have been working diligently to meet a construction deadline this month so the stadium is ready for fans.
These fans will flock to our community from all over the world, many participating in an annual tradition and others crossing off one of their “bucket list” items. Still others will seek to reconnect with their alma mater and classmates.
Our community stands ready to receive and welcome these guests and to provide them with an experience they can’t find anywhere else on a Saturday afternoon in the fall.
Last year, Stadium Journey, a magazine and website that annually reviews sports stadiums around the world, rated Notre Dame Stadium as the best experience in college football. The rankings take into account food and beverages served, neighborhood, fans, atmosphere, parking, traffic, restrooms and overall return on investment. And that was before the recent improvements.
Many of our business partners have been anticipating this for some time. Football season provides an important economic boost to our county and region. The economic impact of a home football weekend in St. Joseph County is $15.1 million, with $13.6 million coming from visitors to the county. In a typical season, we have six home games, this season seven.
Our hotel partners are most excited. We have 52 properties with 4,331 rooms that all hope to be full throughout the season. We are anticipating two more hotel properties opening during football season, adding another 272 rooms to the mix. Our restaurant partners are equally excited and are anticipating busy weekends ahead
Residents of the area play an important role in the visitor experience as well. Let’s use this season to make our visitors feel especially welcome and let’s make sure they see all of the positive things happening here in our region. Who knows, some may come back for reasons other than football. Our businesses are hoping so.
Also published in the South Bend Tribune