Hardaway’s hiring expected to boost downtown businesses

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - NBA great and Memphis Tigers legend Penny Hardaway now has a new title as the University of Memphis Men's Basketball Head Coach.

But now some are asking the question if Penny will draw dollars to downtown Memphis. Fans say yes.

"Penny will make a difference to the city; it will make people proud again," Tigers fan Victoria Ellis said.

"He's going to draw from the surrounding areas, then draw people from outside the city as well," Tigers fan James Davis said.

Hardaway steps into the position just days after the firing of former Tigers Basketball Head Coach Tubby Smith.

In the last four years, attendance at Tigers games has dropped from an average of 16,000 to just 6,000 this season. Donations are also down.

Many are hoping Hardaway's hiring will bring more people out to the games.

"If you have 6,000 people at a game versus 15,000 people at a game, those 9,000 people are going to spill out of there a lot of them are going to go places," Billy Orgel, member of Tigers Ambassadors Board, said.

After the game, Orgel hopes fans will leave FedExForum and visit the many bars and restaurants downtown.

"I think it brings up everybody downtown," Orgel said. "Whether it's parking, whether it's restaurants, whether it's bars, and even some of the shopping."

Davis agrees and said Hardaway will spark trickledown economics. During basketball season, he plans on being one of those ticket holders.

"So they are going to buy tickets they are going to buy something to wear, go out to the game, get car washed, get their hair done, after the game, they will want to go out and do something," Davis said.

During Tuesday's press conference, Hardaway said he feels like he can help put fans back in the stands like it was in the old school days.

Hardaway also mentioned that losing is not an option.

Many fans said they believe those are the two key ingredients needed right now.

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