Fans prepare for Outback Bowl - WFLA News Channel 8

Fans prepare for Outback Bowl

Fans prepare for Outback Bowl

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Michigan players prepare for the Outback Bowl Michigan players prepare for the Outback Bowl

You'll be seeing a lot of maize and blue and garnet and black in the Bay Area over the next week.

Football fans from Michigan and South Carolina will be arriving for the Outback Bowl, which will be played New Year's Day.

The teams are already here, and so are some of their fans -- and they're ready to provide a boost to the local economy.

While the Michigan Wolverines football team went through their plays just days before the Outback bowl game, some of their fans were enjoying practice here in sunny Florida -- far from the fresh six inches of snow in their home state.

Joel Metzgera, a Michigan fan, says, "Oh my goodness it is so nice cause you get away from all that cold weather. It is pretty miserable up there in the winter, but down here it is always nice. Maybe we will live here some day."

Over at the South Carolina Gamecocks practice, the players were also gearing up for the big game on New Year's Day. Even their young fans are happy to be here.

Max Bloom, a South Carolina fan, said, "We have been to Florida a few times before. I think this is my first time going to Tampa but this is an awesome game so I am just fine with going."

And so are tens of thousands of Michigan and South Carolina college football fans, who will be coming here for the game. They're expected to spend 30 million dollars at restaurants, hotels and nightclubs while they are here in the Bay Area.

Jim McVay, the Outback Bowl president, said, "Bowl travelers bring a lot of money they are here to have a lot of fun and they get out and enjoy the communities that's why these games are so valuable to a community and that's why this been so wonderful for tire Tampa Bay area."

Over the past 27 years, the bowl game has been held in Tampa. It has generated more than a billion dollars for the local economy, not to mention the exposure it gives to the Bay Area, on national and international television.

"The amount of very positive impressions that come out of the bowl game experience going throughout the country you couldn't purchase that the chamber of commerce couldn't buy that kind of exposure," says McVay.

And while it makes for a unforgettable experience for the fans, they'll be the first to tell you it isn't cheap.

Brian Merger, a Michigan fan, said, "Oh definitely not! Tickets and the airfare and hotel that stuff definitely catches up, especially if you wan to check everything out. The good thing down here is, the beaches are free."

And so is the sunshine, which along with the game, makes this a special New Year's trip for many out-of-state football fans.

In addition to drawing a lot of attention and revenue the Bay Area, the Outback Bowl has donated more than $100 million to education programs.

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