(The Center Square) — The cancellation of the Big 10 football season likely means a loss of millions of dollars for college towns such as Columbus, the home of Ohio State University.

On Tuesday, the Big 10 formally delayed its fall athletics season, and could reschedule it for the spring.

“One of the big impacts in college towns will be retailers,” John Crossman, CEO of Crossman Career Builders, told The Center Square.

“As if they weren’t facing enough issues, the lack of students is a huge impact,” Crossman added. Retailers are all about volume and everything that decreases volume hurts them significantly.”

In the 2018 fiscal year, Ohio State Athletics had a $400.5 million economic impact on the state and “supported or sustained” 3,152 jobs statewide, according to a 2019 analysis by Tripp Umbach. Ohio State Athletics generated $31.9 million in state and local government revenue, the report concluded.

According to some estimates, football alone could result in a loss of revenue totaling $4 billion nationally, ESPN reported.

It comes in many forms, including people from out-of-town traveling to Columbus for games. They dine at restaurants, book hotel rooms and frequent local establishments.

“If you live in Columbus and go to a football game, you are spending dollars that you would probably be spending in the region anyway and so that becomes a wash,” Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, told ABC6/FOX28. “But, given the fact that we have thousands and thousands of people coming in from outside the Columbus metro area to attend these games and spend their money, that’s where the impact comes in.”

Mark Conrad, associate professor of law and ethics and director of the sports business program at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University, said the cancellation of the football season could have a long-reaching impact on other sports. That’s because many schools use football revenue to offset the losses from other sports, such as track and field, that don’t bring in as much revenue.

But, it’s not just the home games that bring in the big bucks. Even when teams are out of town, restaurants and bars still have a money-making opportunity to cater to fans who aren’t traveling to an away game, thanks to what Conrad calls the “religious quality of the fans.”

“Weekends are often made surrounding the game,” Conrad said in an interview with The Center Square. “The game is on Saturday afternoon, so you could have people coming in Friday night and staying until Sunday. What do you do with those hotel rooms at that point?

Conrad continued: “People who wouldn’t normally care about their schools, care about their schools’ football team. It’s a very strong anchor to alum relations.”

Many college communities learning to do without

By Todd DeFeo

The Center Square

Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square