Small businesses brace for impact of potentially canceled OSU football season

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — With no lights, no cameras, and no action happening at the Shoe this year, fall Saturdays in Columbus could look very different if the Big Ten decides to cancel the fall college football season.

Many businesses, already suffering due to the COVID-19 pandemic, could suffer even more without Ohio State University football.

“It’s obviously going to be a huge hit,” said David Jackson at Across The Field, an OSU apparel store near campus. “We’re going to try to make it through and keep the lights on and the rent paid.”

The sign on the door says, “We’re Open,” but it hasn’t felt that way for Jackson this year.

“We were really hoping that we could get a turnaround by having a football season,” he said.

His business, like so many others, is losing money during the pandemic, but he had been preparing for what he thought was a sure thing: OSU football.

While there has been no formal announcement, reports from various media outlets have stated the majority of presidents and chancellors of the schools that make up the Big Ten have voted in favor of canceling the 2020 fall sports season, including football. According to reports, a formal announcement could be made as early as Tuesday.

“At least 50 percent of our income, probably 75 percent, goes from August through December,” Jackson said.

Jackson has pre-ordered shirts, magnets, and coins with the Buckeyes’ 2020 schedule on them, but now, with the probability of there being no season, some potential customers may feel there’s no need for the gear.

“As we talked about football all the way around, you know, that’s when we start making our bread and butter,” said Quinn Allen with The Library Bar.

Bars and restaurants could be set to take another hit in Columbus.

Currently under a state-mandated 10 p.m. “last call” order, they now face the possibility of not  having the football crowds on Saturdays, putting what some would call a chokehold on an industry barely breathing now. 

“I think we’re going to see a lot of people having a lot of difficulties keeping the doors open down on campus,” Allen said.

Allen estimates his bar will lose out on one of the most lucrative season here in Columbus, and so will the hotels.

It’s an industry which has laid off 70 percent of the its workforce in Ohio and lost $300 million in hotel room revenue so far in 2020.

“It’s revenue that I wouldn’t say that anybody was counting on anything this year, but certainly hoping that this was a bright spot,” said Joe Savarise, executive director of the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association.

With no OSU football, which is a primary moneymaker for many of these industries, businesses may have to go nine months without seeing any significant source of revenue due to the pandemic, which is why the future of many small businesses is dark.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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