With little discussion, the Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved spending $1 million in tourist development tax dollars towards marketing and hosting the 2017 national college football championship game, slated for January 9.
“Similar to the Super Bowl or the RNC, this is an incredible opportunity to showcase our community, and the economic impact is considerable,” said Commissioner Ken Hagan.
When the Tampa Sports Authority won the bid the host the game at Raymond James Stadium in December of 2013, Hagan said that the economic impact would be between $250 million to $350 million, along with approximately 1,700 to 1,800 full-time jobs. On Wednesday, he cited those same figures from what the cities of Dallas and Phoenix had reported from hosting the first two national college football championship games in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Unlike the Republican National Convention or the previous four Super Bowls that Tampa has hosted, however, Hagan said that there would be plenty of free activities for the general public to enjoy in the buildup to the game, including a three-night concert series.
The $1 million that the county committed to come tourist development taxes, which is collected on every dollar spent at hotels, motels and RV parks in Hillsborough County. It does not come from general revenues, Hagan announced, meaning that they cannot be used for basic essential services such as roads, law enforcement, parks or any other services.
“I think this is very good use of funds from the reserves,” said Commissioner Sandy Murman. “I can’t wait for it to come.”
“My prediction is that it will be Clemson and Washington,” opined County Commission Chairman Les Miller. Clemson was named earlier this week among the four college programs named in the initial Football Playoff rankings of the season. Alabama, Texas A&M and Michigan almost made the Final Four, with Washington just missing the cut.
For decades, college football was the only major Division I sport in the NCAA that did not have a playoff system. The so-called national champion was declared from a poll or polls. After years of clamoring for a playoff system, a four-team playoff system was installed at the beginning of the 2014 college footballs season.