Home Campus Ohio U sponsored weekends bring more people and money to town

Ohio U sponsored weekends bring more people and money to town

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Court Street in Athens, Ohio in August 2017. File Photo by Connor Perrett.

Annual weekends like Homecoming, Mom’s Weekend and Dad’s Weekend bring more than just mom and dad to campus, they also help build local businesses.

Annual Family Weekends and Homecoming Weekend not only give students a chance to see friends and family, they also promote the local economy thanks to the influx of people in Athens.

Parents Weekend, the first Family Weekend of the year from Sept. 15-17, offered musical and theatrical productions, football games, tailgating and a taste of Athens to families.

Football games on these weekends tend to attract larger crowds than normal home games. The Parents Weekend football game against Kansas State spiked with 22,056 attendees, compared to 17,501 fans at the home game against Hampton. The 2016 Parents Weekend football game filled 93 percent of Peden Stadium, and 2015’s Parents Weekend recorded 22,985 in attendance.

Thousands of people migrate to Athens for these weekends, which provides more than just entertainment for visitors and students; it also promotes local businesses and spurs economic growth in the area.

Restaurants and retailers saw booming business throughout Parents and Homecoming Weekend. Court and Union Street were filled with patrons with long wait times for tables at popular Athens restaurants.

Hotels and lodging also saw increased business during Parents Weekend.

“Typically, for any of the big OU weekends, you know, Siblings Weekend, Parents Weekend, Moms Weekend, Dads Weekend, all of our cabins are typically booked,” said Bernie Roell, owner of a Nelsonville cabin rental service, “They are typically booked well in advance.”

Roell’s company, 1st Choice Cabin Rentals, operates 16 cabins and one bed-and-breakfast in and around Nelsonville.

“Most people can’t even find a hotel accommodation so they reach out to like local cabins, hosting facilities,” said Roell, “They go as far as Logan.”

The Athens County Visitors Bureau said the majority of hotels are booked to capacity during special university weekends. During Parents Weekend, eight of the 11 hotels in Athens and surrounding areas were full, as well as nine of the 12 reported cabins, and all six bed-and-breakfasts.

For Dads Weekend, Nov. 3-5, eight of 11 hotels, seven of 12 cabins and three of six bed-and-breakfasts are already fully booked.

Homecoming brings a crowd, similar to Parents Weekend. The university had multiple events planned, including the Yell Like Hell Pep Rally Thursday night, Alumni Gala Awards Friday, and the parade and football game Saturday.

This homecoming weekend was especially celebratory as the Marching 110 commemorated its 50th anniversary and the alumni band continued its legacy of performing and welcomed hundreds of former Bobcat band members back to campus.

Restaurants and retailers faced another rush of business with the influx of people.

“This weekend [Homecoming] we are completely booked,” said Roell, “It really has a positive impact on our business.”

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