Friday night franchise

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

If you live in Demopolis, there’s plenty of reasons to pull for the Tigers’ football team: a diploma from Demopolis High, a family member on the team or coaching staff, an unusually strong love for the color blue, or just good ol’-fashioned civic pride.

Here’s one more reason: a good Demopolis football team is good for Demopolis business.

For the fourth straight year, the Tigers have won the 4A Region 4 title and earned at least two extra home games in the AHSAA playoffs. While the home games have obvious benefits for the team, band members, fans, the Booster Club, etc., the influx of visitors from outside the area can mean a big boost at the register for many of Demopolis’s businesses.

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“There’s an immediate impact on sales at restaurants and convenience stores,” says Demopolis Chamber of Commerce president Jay Shows. Shows says that while there usually isn’t a big spike in lodging, “most teams, when they travel, are going to stop for something to eat. That’s true during the regular season, too, but there’s more of a following in the playoffs. Most parents are going to come see their kids play.”

One local restaurant that’s seeing the benefits of playoff football first-hand is Smokin’ Jack’s Bar-B-Q. When Demopolis hosted Handley in the first round of the playoffs Nov. 4, the Tigers from Randolph County (along with the band and a number of their supporters) elected to pack Smokin’ Jack’s for their pre-game meal.

The restaurant was filled to capacity the next Friday afternoon as well. Not with Demopolis’s next opponent, however, but with the football team and band from T.R. Miller High School, on their way to face Aliceville in the 3A playoffs.

Smokin’ Jack’s owner Jackie Poole says that although he’s very happy for the attention, he doesn’t think about the business impact when he’s rooting for the hometown Tigers.

“We’re glad it’s worked out,” he says. “[but] I’m just glad for the business.”

It’s the same sentiment echoed by Parr’s Chevron owner and Demopolis supporter Jim Parr. Parr he doesn’t worry about the bump in sales while the Tigers are making another march into the playoffs–but he does appreciate the bump once it arrives.

“We’re definitely busier than normal,” he says. “We are for any home football game. But we do have more people come by after a playoff game.”

Like at Smokin’ Jack’s, Parr says his business also benefits from playoff football (and college football) outside of Demopolis as more and more fans take to the road to follow their favorite team.

“We get a lot of people who are passing through,” he says. “Tomorrow [when Alabama hosts LSU] will be the same thing. It’s college football, but it’s the same principle.”

It’s hardly a surprise to Shows that business would pick up at convenience stores like Parr’s on a playoff football night.

“If you think about it, most people, half at least,” he says, “are going to pick up a snack on their way in or out.”

But Shows points out that it’s not only the “three or four hundred” out-of-towners that make extra playoff games a boon to Demopolis business.

“Local fans that might otherwise have stayed home on a Friday night are more likely to come back out,” he says.

All of which adds up to more good news for Demopolis business and more reason to cheer on the Tigers. Parr says he’s a fan first and a business owner a distant second when it comes to supporting the Demopolis football team, but he’s still grateful for the sales.

“We just happen to be in the right place at the right time,” he says.