I have loved college football my entire life. One of my first memories when I was probably about three-years-old was walking to Owen Field in Norman with my parents to see the University of Oklahoma play. My dad was a grad assistant at OU and we lived a couple of miles from the stadium. Since then I have had the good fortune to live in great college football communities including Norman, Stillwater, Lincoln and now Manhattan.
I know college football is going through massive changes that make a lot of us uncomfortable, but we’re fortunate to have great leadership at K-State getting us through all of this. And at the end of the day, it’s still the game we all fell in love with as a kid.
For Manhattan, it is even more than that. I believe very strongly that the success of a university athletic program has a profound effect on the host community.
In a study commissioned in 2015 by Kansas State, it was estimated that over $4 million was spent per each home football game on hotels and restaurants. And since over 50% of football season ticket holders come from more than 100 miles away, you can assume that most of that money is revenue our community would not have had otherwise.
Overall, the report identified 428,000 visitors to Manhattan because of athletics each year. Each of these visitors spend an average $289 on hotels, restaurants, etc. during their stay, which equates to $133 million in annual expenditures. With inflation, I would assume that number is even greater today.
Additionally, Kansas State has undertaken massive capital projects including the new football indoor facility and the Morgan Family Arena for volleyball. These have had a significant economic benefit for Manhattan and the region.
But perhaps the greatest effect is a sense of pride for a successful program. Manhattan has benefitted tremendously from the renaissance of football that occurred with the arrival of Bill Snyder in 1988. It is apparent the Manhattan community and university were both rejuvenated by the remarkable turnaround and continue to ride the wave of optimism and hope set by the legendary Coach Snyder over the past 30 years.
That optimism has been extended with Coach Chris Klieman and the 2022 Big 12 Championship. We are incredibly fortunate to have such a great opportunity to host Kansas State athletics in our community and I’m proud to be a converted Wildcat.
However, let’s not forget the great work from our regional high school teams as well, including Manhattan. The Indians are defending Class 6A Champions and will be kicking off their season Friday against perennial power Derby at 7 p.m. at Bishop Stadium. Good luck to the MHS team and all the region’s high school squads.