White Water Classic brings positive economic growth to Phenix City

Whitewater Classic brings positive economic growth to Phenix City

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - Two well-known historically black universities, Albany State and Tuskegee, battled it out over the weekend at Garrett-Harrison Stadium for the third annual White Water Classic football game.

The Tuskegee Golden Tigers won the Classic for the third year in a row, beating ASU's Golden Rams 28-18. 
City officials believe the whole experience  was a big economic success, even though the final numbers from the sales tax report won't be calculated for about six or seven weeks.

Early numbers from Steve Smith, finance director in Phenix City, indicate the Classic will bring in more revenue this year than the previous years.

The game pulled in more than $500,000 in 2015, and more than $250,000 was generated during the Classic's first year in 2014.

Smith says the game is a great asset to the alumni from Tuskegee and Albany State who live in Phenix City.

"We had more than 5,000 people in the stadium watching the football game and then on top of that you had several thousand more people out tailgating all around the stadium. We had a near sell-out crowd at the concert Friday and a huge crowd at Idle Hour Park on Saturday night. Just a great amenity for our citizens," Smith said.

Another big classic bowl game could be returning to Phenix City. Smith says the city has submitted a proposal for the return of the NCAA Stagg Bowl, which is currently played in Virginia. The game was last played in Phenix City in 1989.

"Well, you talking about a national televised game played on ESPN on eight o'clock on Saturday night. There's no way we can afford to buy that kind of advertising in terms of showing off Phenix City. We get an opportunity to run commercials during that game to bring people to Phenix City," said Smith.

If the city is successful in winning the bid, the Division 3 College Championship game will be played in December 2018 for the next four years.

"If we are awarded the contract, we would need to upgrade the press box to ESPN standards," said Smith.

For right now, college football fans will continue to enjoy the White Water Classic.

Managers at the Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, two of the biggest hotels in Phenix City, say they were not at full capacity.

Smith says with the Classic improving every year, they believe they will be able to fill those hotels in the future.

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