Husker Athletics helping the Lincoln economy

A tight loss to the Spartans might not be great for the Huskers or their fans but the hype surrounding the game and an improving Nebraska basketball team is proving good for local business.

Businesses around Pinnacle Bank Arena drew huge crowds Thursday night before and during the game. They say a hot streak basketball team and a big opponent like Michigan State had fans from in and out of state driving up sales on a normal week night.

Longwell's in the Haymarket usually sees around 50 people on an average Thursday, that number was dwarfed by a crowd in the hundreds.

"A big game like this is a blessing," said Lauren Marsh. "Because it's an influx in business on what would otherwise be a slower night for us."

A study put out by the university shows Nebraska Athletics has a substantial impact on the local economy. Around $59.2 million dollars in off-site fan spending alone.

"A big part of the impact is of course the operations of the athletic department itself," said Dr. Eric Thompson, one of the studies authors. "There's also a large impact on businesses in the Lincoln area, and that's gonna be focused by the stadiums and arenas such as the Haymarket area."

Husker men's basketball is the third highest financial draw for the university, only topped by football and volleyball. Dr. Thompson says that on average basketball fans will spend in the double digits.

"The typical out of town basketball fan will spend about 20 dollars, 25 dollars off-site," said Thompson. "That reflects a lot of people dining out or retail shopping. Again, much of that activity happens in the Haymarket."

With the development of more entertainment and dining options around venues that host Husker games in the past 10 years, a good season can only drive that number higher.

"it is definitely much better than past season," said Marsh. "The team's a lot better, the fans come out earlier, they stay later, it's a bigger deal."

The study also shows that a big chunk of that money is coming from out-of-state fans, who double in-state fans spending in every sport.