GatorNationals Brings $Millions to Gainesville
Race cars weren't the only things revving up and taking off this weekend at the "Gatornationals" drag races. The economy got its engine running too.
At least $60 million...that's how much the National Hot Rod Association estimates this race brought to Gainesville.
Executive General Manager of Gainesville Raceway Don Robertson said, "When we were looking at the stands filling up Saturday and Sunday, we were like- alright, this is looking good."
That was music to the ears of business operators like Michael Winter of Gainesville Ale House. Winter said, "Yeah, I mean we definitely count on it, you count on the business."
Gorgeous weather and over 500 racing teams in the competition, drew a crowd estimated to be about 100,000. When fans and competitors left the Gainesville Raceway, they left behind a lot of money. Robertson said, "So they're here spending money, buying supplies, going to restaurants, getting their laundry done."
Alachua County's hotel rooms were at 95% occupancy, according to the Visitors and Convention Bureau. That's 4500 rooms. Generating around $2 million overall and $100 thousand in Bed Tax. Even more than a home Gator football game. Tourism Coordinator John Pricher said, "It somewhere falls between one and two football weekends. So since it's generally a three night stay...football games are generally two nights."
Especially because Gatornationals coincided with the University of Florida spring break, the extra patrons filled an important gap for businesses. Winter said, "Even though it's spring break, it's actually one of the busiest weeks of the year for us, just because all of the racers come in." In a tough financial time, the races bring an economic victory to the area.
Officials say even though the turnout was higher this year than last, there was less crime. With only four minor incidents reported.
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