MSU weekend brings estimated $5.2 million to Mount Pleasant; some businesses say it wasn't what they expected

Adam Niemi/Staff Photographer Patrick Bartolo, foreground, prepares an order at Buffalo Wild Wings, 1904 S. Mission St. on Tuesday afternoon. Buffalo Wild Wings broke its single-day sales record on Saturday, the day Central Michigan played football against Michigan State, earning over $27,000 according to manager David Kramer.

Long lines and seas of green were seen around Mount Pleasant this weekend when Michigan State University defeated Central Michigan University’s football team.

While CMU lost, some businesses are considering the weekend a win when it came to revenue.

Chris Rowley, executive director of the Mount Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said using rough figures, the weekend brought in at least $5.2 million to the city.

"We have an economic impact calculator, but I don't have the exact numbers of who was in town or for how long since this brought a lot of people into town for the whole weekend, not just one event," she said.

Initially, the city expected the weekend’s revenue to total between $7 and $15 million.

"A weekend like this is going to have an economic impact because people used the hotels, restaurants, shopped at local stores, went to the gas stations in the area and more. That's certainly a large economic impact," she said.

Business reactions

Buffalo Wild Wings, 1904 S. Mission St., had a record-breaking sales weekend.

“It was huge,” David Kramer, manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, said. “We broke our daily sales record. We made over $27,000 on Saturday.”

Kramer said the restaurant also broke its weekly sales record on Sunday.

“Everybody worked a lot,” Kramer said. “It was stressful, but it went smoothly.”

He said the restaurant did nothing unusual for the weekend besides stocking up for the week. The kitchen was modified for immediate access to food items for preparing orders. More plastic ware was purchased than usual because Kramer said there was no way the restaurant could keep up with glassware. It was also a safer option as the restaurant was filled with business.

Barry Waters, director of the Central Michigan University Bookstore, said in an email he was satisfied with the amount of business they received before the big game.

“I knew it was going to be a big day and a big week and it was all of that and more,” Waters said. “I think our students have been in CMU versus MSU mode every minute since arriving on campus for classes.”

But the CMU bookstore did run into one problem.

“I wish I had another thousand or so of the official football shirt this year,” Waters said. “That is always a shirt that when it is gone it is gone.”

The Student Book Exchange, 209 E. Bellows St., had a bit of a different story.

John Belco, owner of SBX, said “I think Saturday wasn't as busy as I thought it would be, but Friday and Sunday exceeded what I thought would happen.”

While the game was a great time for the area, Belco said business was similar to homecoming or Western Weekend.

Ken Los, co-owner of Bottle and Barrel Party Store, 1635 E. Broomfield St., said “(The impact) didn't really meet expectations, but I'm satisfied. We haven't had this kind of business in 3 or 4 years because of the tailgating policies.”

Bottle and Barrel didn’t run into any major problems during the weekend, he said.

“We were really well prepared, we didn't run out of anything, we actually have a lot of product left over,” Los said.

Business was a bit different in downtown portions of the city.

Don Bissell, owner of the Blackstone, 212 West Michigan St., said since strict enforcement on tailgate was amped up, business at the Blackstone went down. But with the recent rule changes in tailgate, this year has brought an increase in business during football games.

"We had a good weekend. It was a nice push," he said.

However, with no games to compare this to in the past, Bissell said they didn't know what to expect.

"We had no idea what to expect. There was not a precedent. I prepared for a lot, but I didn’t have to buy near as much today. I would say it was as good or better than we expected."

He said there was enough business to be open, but nothing spectacular like business used to be during homecoming.

"We didn't really get up to capacity until 11-11:30 p.m. Saturday,” Bissell said. “There was some business in the afternoon. It was slow, but we had some."

Bissell hopes the change in tailgate rules will bring more alumni back to town and back to his business.

“For about three years now, the games have killed us, we’ve been way down on game day,” he said. “The alumni quit coming and it really hurt downtown business.”

He said overall, students behaved themselves and had a good time, but there was one fight that got out of hand.

"I guess we had a few fights. Some of them were a little unruly, but we got through it,” Bissell said. “There was one fight Friday night that we had to call the cops on."

Unlike at the Blackstone, at Stan's, 220 E. Broadway, customers were friendly with each other, said owner Tammy Germain.

"The atmosphere was great, everyone was fired up," she said.  "… It’s pretty much what we expected. We could have taken in more, but it was fun."

Germain said there were a few more people coming to eat at Stan's than normal, but she said many of her regulars didn't come to eat there this weekend.

"We didn’t run out of anything and that’s great because on a normal weekend we typically do," she said. "I think my regulars knew what it was going to be like so they stayed away. It was all college kids."

Saturday and Sunday, business was crowded from open until the afternoon, Germain said.

"We were busy all the way up until about 1 p.m. and then it died down," she said.

Saturday morning, the CMU football team came in and she got a picture of them.

"We love having the kids here," Germain said.

Other downtown locations were also keeping busy.

The Brass Café, 128 South Main St., was a popular location this weekend, said server Bridgitte Brown.

"We had a pretty busy evening and we had a lot of alumni from both teams. It was pretty busy for a Saturday," she said.

Brown said the weekend was probably a little busier than expected.

"We had a busy day. We didn't break any sale records or anything,” said Todd Gurzick, owner of ToDblD’s Party Store, 104 E. May St., “I guess with the numbers people were saying going in, we prepared for more than we had."

Gurzick said the store had plenty of beer, but did run out of pizza.

"We've never ran out of pizza before. There were a lot of hungry kids," he said. "I think at best we saw everyone just had a good time around here."

He said the busiest time he had was late afternoon on Saturday.

On the other side of town, Mission Party Store general manager Peter Shamoun said the MSU weekend was just marginally better than Western Weekend in 2010.

“We anticipated a huge weekend but it wasn’t what we expected,” Shamoun said. “The actual day of the game was a little better. I was happy but I was disappointed because it wasn’t what I expected.”

Shamoun said because of the new tailgate rules in effect at CMU, coupled with this season’s home football schedule, he has already seen an increase in business compared to last season.

“This year already, compared to last year, I’m doing extremely better,” he said.

Rich Swindlehurst, co-owner of the Blue Gator, 106 Court St. and owner of Midori, 105 E. Broadway St., said his businesses remained consistently busy.

"Saturday (at Blue Gator) was terrific. It was busy all day. Once the game started, a lot of people came in until about 2 a.m.," he said.

He said for the past year he has been hearing about this game and prepared a lot.

"We heavily prepped and prepared for it and it was rewarding. Everything lived up," he said. "I wish that Michigan State would play here every year... Or even every other year like Western. It was a lot of fun."

"Overall I think it was a great weekend for the entire city,” Swindlehurst said. “We had a very great turnout Friday night (at Midori)."

Swindlehurst said Saturday crowds were lower than normal and he said he thinks it's because the restaurant is more fine dining and a lot of people aren't going out somewhere nicer to eat during tailgate.

He thinks the turnout was what they expected.

"It was kind of how we planned on it being and it turned out the exact same way," he said.