Aug. 22, 2008
By Frank Murphy
Seminole fans in such places as Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Pensacola are thinking twice about traveling to the Tallahassee area for football weekends. Fuel prices and other costs are on their minds. But the Leon County Tourist Development Council (LCTDC) and Florida State University have gotten together to say, “Help is on the way.”
Over the past seven months, Americans have cut back on driving by more than 40 billion miles. The U.S. Transportation Department says that is “a reaction caused at least partially by high gasoline prices.” According to a May 2008 Gallup Panel survey, 55 percent of those surveyed “changed travel plans in the previous three months because of gasoline costs.” Recent telemarketing polls by the Seminole Boosters and FSU Athletics Ticket Office verify that some would-be ticket-buyers are thinking like the rest of America.
“We believe that we can turn this around,” said FSU President T.K. Wetherell. “We can combine our resources with the Tourist Development Council’s to assist those thousands of families that want to come to Tallahassee for a football game or other event. At the same time, we’ll be helping the local economy as visitors rent hotel and motel rooms, go to restaurants, buy gasoline and purchase other products and services.”
Recognizing the economic hard times families are facing, FSU and the LCTDC aim to help offset the costs visitors face in driving to Tallahassee. Toward that end, the Council unanimously recommended approval of FSU’S request for a $250,000 grant to supplement the project. At press time, the Leon County Board of County Commissioners was set for a September 2 final vote on the grant, which covers a 16-month period and two football seasons.
If approved, the grant would come from the LCTDC’s reserve funds. “This certainly seems to be an appropriate expenditure. These are difficult economic times and that is what these funds are for,” said Russell Daws, Chairman of the LCTDC Board.
The grant will be used to support an FSU partnership with the Tallahassee Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (TACVB) for the creation and promotion of family friendly travel packages to attract more visitors to the Capital City, especially for football games and other FSU-related events.
According to a recent study by Dr. Julie Harrington, director of the FSU Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis, “In 2007, almost 630,000 people visited Tallahassee for reasons related to FSU – from prospective students and their families to the world’s most eminent scientists and artists.” Facing looming marketing deadlines, FSU and the TACVB are already offering affordable, family-friendly ticket packages for the September 6 game against Western Carolina and the September13 matchup with UT Chattanooga.
Priced at $19, the individual-ticket packages for the September 6 (6:00p.m.) game and for the September 13 (3:45 p.m.) game include the following items (most of the free event tickets and coupons are valid Sept. 5-7 and Sept. 12-14):
Click here to purchase tickets. The tickets are secured through the site by barcode and can be printed at home, along with the free Spirit Express bus pass for game day. Buyers may also purchase the ticket packages by calling the FSU Ticket Office at (850) 644-1830. There is a $10 handling fee for each purchase transaction, but group purchases can be made in a single transaction. All other free tickets and discount coupons included in each package can be downloaded and printed from the TACVB’s Web site at VisitTallahassee.com.
Several Tallahassee-area hotels and motels will be offering one night minimum stays in connection with these ticket packages, but the offers are not exclusive to the packages. Several hotels are offering a “book two nights/receive third night free” savings plan or 25 percent off if you stay a third night or complimentary breakfast for staying a Friday and Saturday night. For a complete listing of participating hotels, go to VisitTallahasee.com, which is linked to the Seminoles.com site for the convenience of those purchasing ticket packages. Buyers of the valued-added ticket packages are encouraged to make their hotel reservations prior to purchasing their tickets.