City leaders boast about Liberty Bowl's opportunity for Memphis

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - City leaders on Wednesday called the sold out AutoZone Liberty Bowl classic a huge opportunity for the city, in terms of its economy and public image.

"62,000 people, not in Florida somewhere, but right here in Memphis, Tennessee," Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said.

Both Wharton and Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau President Kevin Kane say there's no better way to kick off the New Year!

"The University of Arkansas - they're going to be here en mass," Kane said. "They bought over 25,000 tickets in Fayetteville alone, not to mention all the tickets bought here locally by Arkansas fans."

It's ECU versus Arkansas, and with the Razorbacks right over the Memphis Bridge, the showdown is a big draw for Mid-South football fans.

"It's at least a 20 million dollar weekend for us," Kane said. "Could be more."

With ESPN and the Armed Forces Network carrying the game, the whole world will have its eyes on Memphis.

"There's no other football competition that day," Kane said. "There's no NFL game in that time slot. There's no other college game in that time slot.  For us, it's a great opportunity to showcase the city."

And two of Memphis' most precious treasures.

"It means so much to St. Jude," Wharton said. "It means so much to get Auto Zone's name around the world.  It's good to have a local sponsor."

Hotels and restaurants in downtown Memphis should be packed all weekend and the mayor says his police officers will be out in full force.

"We're going to make this a safe city for them," Wharton said. "Word is getting around that we're becoming a safer city."

City leaders are asking you to your part to make visitors feel welcome in our fair city.  Click here for crucial game day advice like driving routes and parking tips.

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