COLUMBIA − The city of Columbia will see an increase in tourism as Mizzou Athletics hosts two feature events this upcoming weekend.
“This is the first fall that we’ve really been able to get excited about travel again,” Strategic Communications Manager of the Columbia Conventions & Visitors Bureau, Megan McConachie, said. “The fans who come here for SEC games are always really impressed with our community and how open and welcome they are to all the different fanbases.”
Fans and students can see the Missouri men’s and women’s basketball teams Friday at the Francis Quadrangle on MU campus for Mizzou Madness. Along with getting to know the players and coaches, there will also be a live DJ, interactive games, food vendors, and a laser light show.
“We are embracing a spirit of innovation to provide our fans this first of its kind way to be introduced to our basketball teams,” Mizzou Director of Athletics, Desiree Reed-Francois, said in a news release.
Mizzou Madness begins at 8 pm Friday Night and can be moved to Mizzou Arena in the event of inclement weather. Tony Daniel, Assistant Director of Athletics with Marketing & Fan Experience, says it’s a great way to kickoff the weekend.
“We hit the ground running and campus has been great partners with us in making this event happen, and we’re really just excited to show Columbia and the nation our teams,” Daniel said. “We want this to be a pregame party before we go and take on Georgia on Saturday.”
“I think that adding the court to the columns area out on the Quad is gonna be an extra element of experience to those who are coming in, so I think they picked a great weekend to go ahead and have that installed,” McConachie said.
Less than 24 hours after Mizzou Madness, the Missouri Tigers football team will kick off against the Georgia Bulldogs at 6:30 pm Georgia enters Saturday as No. 1 team in the country, increasing the stakes of the game as Mizzou looks for the upset.
“It’s a great opportunity for our team and our fans,” Daniel said. “Not many times do you get to have the No. 1 team in the country come and play on your field.”
However, Mizzou fans outside of the Columbia area may have a problem finding a place to stay the night after the game. Georgia fans are known to travel long distances to cheer on their Bulldogs, making it difficult to book a hotel room.
“We definitely are pretty much out of rooms and sold out here in Columbia on Saturday Night,” McConachie said. “As soon as we hear about one or two rooms coming open, they’re pretty much immediately snatched up. There are still a few rooms in the market for Friday, but Saturday is going to be very difficult.”
But the increase of tourists does not hurt the city of Columbia. Fans staying Saturday night will help hotels and gives local businesses more opportunities to profit.
“Weekends like this where we have a football game in town are really important for the local economy,” McConachie said. “When tourism increases, then small businesses see an influx of people, which also means an influx of revenue for them.”
The gates to Memorial Stadium will open at 5 pm Saturday for the football game against Georgia.