Businesses in Kalamazoo are preparing themselves for an influx of visitors for Friday's Western Michigan University-Michigan State University football game. While many hotels and bars expect to be running at full capacity, city leaders expect the game to attract, and keep, visitors in the city.
At the apparel store the Spirit Shoppe, right off Western’s campus, owner Ric Scheffers says he’s bringing in every staff member he has to man the counters.
“We want you from the beginning, when we open up in the morning at 9:00, until 7:00 when you walk out the door to the game,” Scheffer says from his office above the store.
Scheffers says he started preparing in early August. Getting staff, training them, and creating unique shirts, just for the game.
And then, when game day rolls around: “You just kind of wing it," Scheffers says.
"You just have to be excited about the game, excited about the business, excited you’re going to Western, all the different things you’re doing are coming to a head right there on Friday.”
For other tourism businesses, like hotels and bars, the story’s the same. Most expect capacity crowds. Some nearby bed and breakfasts say rooms have been booked for weeks or months.
Discover Kalamazoo President Greg Ayers says it’s tough to calculate the total impact of the game on the community. But he’s expecting the media coverage to mean more visitors now and in the future,
“Nevertheless, once people get introduced and see the excitement of what’s going on at game day at Waldo Stadium, it might trigger people to want to come back to other games this year or in the future,” Ayers says.
Ayers says the city also wants to showcase its downtown. To do that, some businesses have commissioned shuttles to travel back and forth from Waldo Stadium to downtown Kalamazoo.