The finances of football: Local businesses hope a better season will bring out more customers

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — Abel Rocha is a die-hard Texas Tech fan and loves to welcome Red Raiders to watch the game at his restaurant every Saturday. Complete with a wall commemorating past Tech football stars and showing off signed memorabilia, the All American Eatery is a staple for gamedays with a healthy fanbase of regular patrons.

“Without Tech, we wouldn’t be thriving like we are now,” Rocha said.

The All American Eatery is just one of Lubbock’s businesses that have found it relies on Texas Tech Athletics to bring out a crowd of Red Raider fans to its business. For Rocha, Tech sports are more than just a game — they’re a major driver of customers.

“The better the sports does, all the sports, the better Lubbock thrives, because everybody wants merchandise, everybody wants this and that,” Rocha said. “What Tech does is what leads to what the community does, as far as economics.”

A 2020 report from Texas Tech shows the university brought in $2.7 billion to the South Plains economy and employed almost 32,000 people. Texas Tech sports bring tourists and their money to Lubbock — a factor that has city leaders closely watching the performance of Tech on the field and the court. In July, Mayor Dan Pope sent a letter to Governor Abbott pleading with him to act on The University of Texas’ departure from the Big XII conference, citing a local economic impact of $10 million per conference home game.

Rocha said the money flows best when Tech is winning, and he noticed a drop in customers when the Tech football season took a dive this year.

“When they’re on a two, three-game winning streak, I can see more people coming out, more people wanting to support them,” he said. “And then when they’re not doing so well, we suffer because they don’t want to come out, they don’t want to support. They probably just want to stay in their house and do something else.”

Luckily, community members are optimistic that Coach McGuire will bring a better season next year. As expensive as elite coaches are for the university — McGuire is raking in $20.2 million over the next six years — a winning season may bring in far larger returns for the wider community.

“I think fans will be really excited to get to know him as he kind of continues to get out and meet with the community,” Vice President of Government Relations for the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce Kyle Jacobson said.

“Get your guns up. It’s all about Tech, enough about us,” Rocha said. “Hopefully, the football program will get where it needs to be. Let’s go, let’s do it.”

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