Football fans enjoy bundled up beach day before game day - WFLA News Channel 8

Football fans enjoy bundled up beach day before game day

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A chilly day didn't stop thousands of football fans from making their way to Clearwater Beach for the annual Outback Bowl Beach Day.

"It's supposed to be warm," said Natalie Hinson, who came to Florida to cheer on the USC Gamecocks. "I brought shorts. I didn't want to wear a jacket."

Fans warmed up to the idea of a bundled up beach day and had a great time enjoying the festivities in sweat suits instead of swimsuits.

"Today obviously is a little cooler, but the enthusiasm is unbelievable," said Bob Basham, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse.

The Sunday crowd showed team loyalty as their players faced off in a pie eating contest. They cheered on their cheerleaders during the tug-of-war competition.

"I'm taking advantage of every bit of what's going on here bowl week," said Michigan fan Dan Schutte.

Outback Bowl President & CEO Jim McVay said the bowl and its events generate $30 million in economic impact in Tampa Bay each year.  Hotels, restaurants, and local businesses all get a boost.

"Bowl travelers bring a lot of money," said McVay. "They're here to have a lot of fun."

Organized bowl events spread across both sides of the Bay from Pinellas beaches to Busch Gardens. McVay estimates a $1 billion economic impact to Tampa Bay since the bowl game came to town 26 years ago. Michigan and South Carolina fans are already helping this year's tally add up.

Fans will flock to Ybor City Monday for the pre game parade and pep rally at 5:30 PM. The Outback Bowl kick off on January 1st is scheduled for 1 PM at Raymond James Stadium.

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