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Published on November 9th, 2012 | by Newt Rayburn


“Late Night Games Bad for Business?” by Kierra Ransey

Late Night Games

Bad for Business?

by Kierra Ransey

From The Local Voice #166: Download the PDF here


Oxford, Miss. (TLV) – Although Ole Miss’ late-night kickoffs may be good for exposure, some local business owners are wondering if they are good for business.

Football games have gotten off to a late start for Ole Miss. The first two home games started at 6pm and the Texas game began at 8:15pm. This arrangement was good for the team, who had the opportunity to get more television viewers. It was good for the fans and students because they could enjoy a full day at the Grove; however, it was the owners of the local restaurants in town who were less than pleased with the arrangement.

“As a total, business has been down,” said Buck Walden, the owner of the Rib Cage. “There’s no doubt that part of that is due to late kickoffs.”

Buck Walden is just one of the many local business owners in Oxford who are concerned about the late night games. While the games are going on, Rebel fans are either cheering the Rebels on or watching the game on television. As a result, traffic on the Square is decreased.

“[Late-night games] are really making a difference for my business,” said Bulmaro Revelez, who owns Taqueria El Milagro. “By the times the games are finished and the traffic is cleared out, it is 10:30 pm and the restaurants on my side of town close at 10. It is really hurting us.”

Because Oxford is a small college town, the local businesses depend on the students and home game traffic. As early as July, some restaurant owners eagerly await the beginning of the football season because their business thrives around that time.

“We’re really dependent on game-day business. The fall leads to busy home game weekends and moderate to slow off-game weekends,” Scott Caradine explained at his restaurant, Proud Larrys’.

When games start later, it is the restaurant owners who get the short end of the stick. The fans spend most of the day at the Grove, tailgating and enjoying the atmosphere at Ole Miss. During the evening, they watch the game either at the stadium or on television. After the games are over, it is almost time for the restaurants to close. That isn’t enough time for them to get a considerable amount of revenue. It stings especially hard for them because there are large crowds in Oxford.  If the games had started just a little bit earlier, they could have gotten a nice lunch crowd and a good dinner crowd after the game.

“It hurts simply because of the late night kickoffs. During the Texas game, we cleared out around 6:30 for the 8:15 kickoff,” Walden said. “We didn’t get busy again until 11:30. We lost out on evening sales.”

Scott Caradine has more optimistic view of things. “We’ve still had great weekends when there were home ball games, but the [Texas game-day] could have been a little stronger. We could have done more sales if the game had been at 2pm.”

Unfortunately for them, the University of Mississippi and Oxford have nothing to do with the time the games are scheduled. That is chosen by ESPN who has a contract with the South Eastern Conference.

“ESPN chooses the game times,” Caradine explained. “It all comes down to what the television people think the people want to see. For Ole Miss to get a prime spot, people have got to want to watch them.”

Other restaurant owners understand that the game times are the result of a contract between the SEC and ESPN, but they wish that there was some way to make a compromise.

“I think that we’re tied to the almighty dollar and ESPN, but I wish there was a loophole,” Walden said.

“It would help if the timing of the games were mixed up,” said Bulmaro. I think we should have a variety of game times.”

Even though the late night games are hurting the business of local restaurants, they are keeping their heads up and adapting as best as they can to the situation.

“I’m glad we have home games,” Caradine said. “It wouldn’t do me any good to complain about the time. We’re going to have some fun. You just got to deal with it, you know?”

“I just open the door and hope the beer is cold and the food is good,” Walden said.

The Ole Miss-Vanderbilt game on Saturday, November 10, 2012 starts at 6 pm on the Ole Miss campus.

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About the Author

Newt Rayburn founded THE LOCAL VOICE in March of 2006. Previously, Newt was Editor of PROFANE EXISTENCE in Minneapolis, and Art Director for Ole Miss' LIVING BLUES magazine. Newt won a National Magazine Award in 1999 for his SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE with THE OXFORD AMERICAN. A seventh-generation Lafayette County, Mississippian, Newt Rayburn's alter ego—Neuter Cooter—lead the Mississippi band THE COOTERS to Rocknoll Glory across the USA from 1993-2018. Newt is a family man who also is a publisher, photographer, writer, musician, landlord, and Civil War enthusiast.

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