Iowa State fans bring economic upswing to Memphis

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Some brave souls weathered the cold in Downtown Memphis on Friday afternoon to take part in the Liberty Bowl parade.

For those going to the game, the 59th annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl between Iowa State and Memphis will offer no respite from the chill.

Fans in hats, scarves, and gloves watched as marching bands and dance teams played down Beale Street.

"Not cold at all," Tigers fan Alan Simpson said. "I'm on fire for my University of Memphis Tigers."

The parade was sponsored by the Beale Street Merchants Association.

The good news for cold fans? Blankets will be allowed inside Liberty Bowl Stadium. They will need to either be carried in or inside a clear bag.

Economic impact

There was some worry about the tourism dollars that may be missing by having the Tigers in the Liberty Bowl, but Iowa State fans have eased some of that.

"Whatever shortfall we might have anticipated with having the home team, the local team in the bowl verses a southeastern conference school, I think a lot of that is being mitigated," Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau President Kevin Kane said. "Iowa State is picking up the slack."

An estimated 20,000 or more Iowa State fans are in town for the Liberty Bowl.

"Things started filling out last night and through tonight and through Saturday. I think it's going to be good weekend for us," Memphis Hotel and Lodging Association member Wayne Tabor said.

Iowa State fans have helped nearly sell out many Memphis hotels as well as the game.

"I see a lot of Tiger fans around visiting Beale Street and other places and other tourists around town, so I think it's going to be a great event," Tabor said.

The bowl game is expected to bring between $25-30 million this weekend in economic impact.

Many bars and restaurants are boosting their Saturday morning staff and opening an hour earlier for anyone looking for a warmer spot to watch the game.

Look out for ticket scammers

Those still trying to get tickets to the sold out game need to be weary about scams.

On Craigslist alone, there are countless listings for the game, ranging from $1 to $1,200.

"Craigslist itself is a legitimate online classified website, but it is a hotbed of all kinds of scams," Better Business Bureau's Randy Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson has a few tips to help you avoid becoming a victim.

"You want to buy with a credit card if you can, because you have some protections you don't have even with a check or other forms of payment," he said.

Memphis Police Department has a few tips of its own:

  • It is better to buy from reputable vendors
  • If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.

Tracking traffic

With tens of thousands of fans filling the stadium, traffic will be an issue in many parts of the city.

If you travel anywhere down Lamar Avenue and Airways Boulevard, traffic can get heavy as drivers try to make their way over to Tiger Lane.

Other areas including East Parkway, North Summer Avenue, North Parkway will be busy, but you can use Sam Cooper if you plan to avoid Overton Park.

Central Avenue will be especially heavy, along with East Parkway South. Cooper-Young may be a place to avoid as well.

Parking lots will open at 6 a.m. Spaces are $20 and there are two ways to access the parking spaces: East Parkway at Young Avenue, or Southern Avenue at Early Maxwell.

Parking passes are now sold out.

The Liberty Bowl kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

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