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Shoals area could feel financial impacts if UNA's football season is cancelled.

Football brings in a lot of money to the Shoals area.

Posted: Aug 12, 2020 4:24 PM
Updated: Aug 12, 2020 10:07 PM

Things are up in the air on whether or not UNA will play four games or no games this season. The Big South Conference, the one UNA is in, delayed its fall season but told universities it could still play four non-conference games.

If no games are played UNA will take a hit financially, but it's unclear how much of one. The surrounding businesses though will lose money, too.

The Marriott of the Shoals said it's already lost some businesses because of the uncertain football season but their big money maker is giving UNA's opposing teams group discounts to stay at the hotel. Now all of that is up in the air, too.

"With home games it does mean for the hotel and community that were going to lose that economic revenue that we would generally get," said Selena Miller, the director of sales and marketing at the Marriott of the Shoals.

Miller said in general the hotel industry has taken a huge hit and locally the possibility of losing UNA's football season and the money that comes with it is another blow.

"While it definitely hurts the university it also hurts the entire Shoals area," said Miller.

UNA football makes money for the university. Virginia Tech is to pay UNA $425,000 for playing but VT cancelled because of the pandemic and it's unclear if they will have to pay UNA now. WAAY31 asked head Coach Chris Willis on Monday what would happen if his team was set to play another one and had to cancel because players got sick. Who would owe the money and where?

"The school lawyer is going through the paperwork but just not having football in itself it's going to be a big financial hit around here. Football is the cash cow that runs everything that goes and if you don't have a season you aren't bringing in any money," said Willis.

Willis said he hopes to play four non-conference games to help make up for financial losses and give players a chance. Miller she said they are working with the university to offer those hotel packages for teams who could come in and play.

"We've been talking with UNA and working with them on  what do we need to do? How do we help each other? I know UNA has been looking at other teams coming in to play so however we can help the university and continue our partnership with them that's what we want to do," said Miller.

Willis said some players have concerns, too. If they can play these four non-conference games will they basically use up a year of eligibility? The NCAA is supposed to make a ruling on that Friday.

UNA said it will make a decision based off of the NCAA and players.

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