Band, teams big drawing card for area

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Pam McKinley wouldn’t mind if 2,000 Trojans canvassed the parking lot of Tiger Stadium on Friday night. The more, the merrier.

Better yet… the more, the louder.

Nearly every discussion about Demopolis High School’s first-round playoff game Friday focuses on the Tigers’ quest for a 4A state championship, but this football stuff is big business – especially if you like crisp horns and resounding snares.

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“Last month, we spent $15,000 on the new tubas that have DHS on them,” said McKinley, who serves as treasurer of the DHS Band Boosters. “We’ve got another $10,000 that’s earmarked for new uniforms.”

Where do the Band Boosters generate such cash? Every cup of hot cocoa and every cheese-soaked nacho adds a bit more to the coffers.

“Last season, during the playoffs, I think we made about $12,000 from concession sales,” McKinley said.

That’s a nice chunk of change for new trousers.

“The trips we take and the equipment we use is very expensive,” said DHS principal Ronald Roberts. “We’ve made a commitment that we’re going to invest in our band program, and we’re going to spend money to sound good.”

That’s where the St. James Trojans – the Tigers’ first-round opponent – will come into play.

“I don’t know how many people they’ll bring, but I hope it’s a lot,” McKinley said.

For that matter, Jay Shows wouldn’t mind seeing plenty of cars with “3A” tags shuffling into the Bluff City.

“In a lot of ways, it’s hard to tell exactly what kind of economic impact this has on the city, but it can only help,” said Shows, head of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce. “With the fans they bring, and the local folks spending money, you’re still turning dollars around in the community.”

According to McKinley, most of the concession items are purchased locally and are re-sold at the games. To Shows, that’s the best form of economic generation that can occur during events like the football playoffs.

“Traditionally, high school fans don’t spend as much money as you would, say, at a college football game, but you could safely say each person will spend at least $10, one way or the other,” Shows said.

Roberts estimates nearly 4,000 people will pack Tiger Stadium during Friday night’s game, and using that number and Shows’ expenditure estimate, Demopolis stands to garner a $40,000 retail boost over the course of the game.

Along with the concession, gas and restaurant purchases made Friday night, Demopolis High will receive 38 percent of all gate revenue. Tickets for the playoff game are $6 each, and DHS splits that revenue with St. James (38 percent) and the Alabama High School Athletic Association (24 percent).

If 4,000 people pay to watch DHS and St. James, DHS will bring in more than $9,000 at the gate for each playoff game it hosts.

“This can’t have anything but a positive impact for us,” said Mayor Cecil Williamson. “Not only are we bringing people to watch football, we’re bringing people to our city who will see how personable and friendly the people of Demopolis are.”

Williamson likes to compare Demopolis football with college games in Tuscaloosa.

“You always see letters in the Tuscaloosa newspaper from fans who visited the city to watch a football game,” she said. “They always talk about how friendly the fans in Tuscaloosa are, and I really think Demopolis is the same way.”

Cash isn’t necessarily the bottom line in high school athletics, but for a community bent on progress and a band interested in a big spring trip, Trojan fans are welcome to march into Demopolis on Friday night.