College GameDay in Boone has immediate impact, puts community members in the national spotlight
Following App State's win over #6 Texas A&M, ESPN's pre-game show College GameDay announced it was coming to Boone before the App State home football game vs Troy.
The decision to send the GameDay crew to App State created a rush of activity as Boone prepared for the spotlight.
With an average viewership of 2.1 million through the first few weeks, a new high for the pregame show since 2010, the spectacle came with an instant economic boost as thousands converged on Boone and its hotels and businesses.
"We haven't seen energy like this in quite a few years. It finally feels like we are back in business doing what we love best. People are so excited to be in Boone and be a part of what our Mountaineers are doing this season," said Tara Brossa, General Manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites of Boone. At the hotel, our team is grateful to serve as a High Country home base for those guests and everyone else learning about our great town from the publicity we have received from this exciting event."
The management team at Ransom Pub in Downtown Boone knew they were in for a big week. “We always expect a big turnout, especially during the fall, but this week was unique in that we saw all kinds of fans coming to Boone for the first time, along with droves of alumni coming to join in on the excitement of the week. We saw a big bump in sales Thursday through Sunday, and we were so excited to be a part of the energy that GameDay brought to Boone,” said a spokesperson from Ransom Pub.
In fact, GameDay’s trip to Boone was the most watched of the first three shows of the season, with over 2.8 million people tuning in to view the last hour of the program, according to ESPN.
The immediate impact of GameDay in Boone was felt amongst many businesses in the High Country, but there are also longer-term benefits, said David Jackson, President, and CEO of Boone Area Chamber of Commerce. "This window of enhanced visibility will help introduce our area to the next generation of visitors and people who may become interested in relocating their business and family life to the High Country. What we know from the aftermath of the Michigan win back in 2007 was that many people came to visit in the months after and made lasting connections to the area. They are still coming back to our area on a regular basis to this day, and that shot of attention came 15 years ago. Less than five minutes after College Gameday closed their show from campus, we received an email from a family in Oregon, requesting information from Boone to be sent to them, so they can plan their east coast visit next summer with a stop in our area. That story will be told time and again over the next several weeks and months. What will the impact of this recent stretch of success and attention look like 15 years from now? Time will tell, but if the past teaches us anything, it's likely that we will have new audiences coming to our area, and falling in love with this place the same way many of us did when we made our first visit."
Joe Furman, Director of Economic Development with the Watauga Economic Development Commission says it’s hard to put a dollar figure on the economic impact of this football game.
“The national exposure for the university and this region is priceless. Millions of people were exposed to the beauty and quality of life we enjoy here in the High Country. It’s a wonderful place to live and it was on full display this week.”
For Appalachian State, this level of attention broke new ground, with Chancellor Sheri Everts calling it “unparalleled in our university’s history” and adding that it “brings with it prestige and recognition for the entire App State campus.”
The three-hour pre-game show highlighted Boone and the university, and put its community leaders in the national spotlight. As a part of Extra Yard for Teachers Week, local educators were highlighted with two teachers receiving $1000 Donor Choose grants to support their classroom activities. Additionally, a $6,000 grant from the College Football Playoff Foundation went towards the Teacher Cadet program at Watauga County Schools, thanks to a collaboration between Watauga County Superintendent Scott Elliott and App State’s Reich College of Education.
“It was an exciting week for our community, and I can't think of a better way to cap off the Extra Yard for Teachers celebration than by highlighting our local educators on a national ESPN broadcast,” said Dr. Scott Elliott, Superintendent of Watauga County Schools. “I am so grateful for our close relationship with the College of Education, and celebrating our teachers seems like a natural way to celebrate the University and the teachers who work so hard to make our community such a special place to live. All these teachers are heroes in my book, and they deserve to be recognized in such a huge way. I want everyone to know that Boone is not just a wonderful community with a great University and vibrant business community, but we are also a place with an outstanding public school system and a wonderful quality of life for our families. There really is something special about this place, and now everyone knows it!”
And to top things off, the storybook week was capped off with a fitting fairytale ending when App State won the game in a last-second Hail Mary heave in the remaining seconds.
It was the only way the week could end.
“Appalachian State earned the ability to have GameDay on its campus. The people have been so friendly, the weather is spectacular, and we believe this is a football program that deserves national attention,” said Desmond Howard, College GameDay co-host.
Certainly, Boone and App State have made their case for College GameDay to return to the High Country.
But if not, the beauty of Blue Ridge mountains may be enough of a case to lure them back.
“This area is one of the most beautiful places that God created with spectacular and breathtaking views of the mountains… I know well the beauty and majesty of the mountains, and it’s sort of awe-inspiring no matter how many times you see it. This is my first time in Boone, but certainly not my first time in these mountains,” said Reece Davis, host of College GameDay.
It was an incredible week that will have long-lasting benefits for this region for many years to come. What a week for this town, for the university, and for the High Country community.