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Training Camp Towns: Spartanburg, SC

This is the second in a series of posts by Chaz Bolte highlighting the economic impact of the NFL lockout on some of the NFL’s Training Camp Towns.


In Spartanburg, S.C. the already recession worn owner of Image Printing worries about how her business will be effected by the NFL labor dispute. Her business hits a busy season when the Carolina Panthers come to town for training camp each summer, and with the lockout looming this may be the first time many of the players and fans stay home.

The 16-year relationship between Wofford College and the Carolina Panthers is being taxed as well, as the Panthers have to consider holding an abridged training camp at the team’s practice facility in Charlotte, North Carolina. The decision presents a personal dilemma for Panthers owner, Jerry Richardson, an alumnus of Wofford College. The team recently extended their deal with the college by five years, however, so there does not appear to be any long-term threat connected to the lockout.

Expectations in Spartanburg were doubly high this spring, the prospect of fans flocking to the small town to see the league’s number one draft pick, former Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton, providing as much buzz as any training camp town could ask for. The added influx of media attention would have meant more journalists, more photographers and more production teams, adding up to more money for local hotels and restaurants than in previous preseasons. Now, businesses must dial back down their budgets as the the busy season is snatched from their books.

History shows there is reason to fear the economic effect of a professional sports strike. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported that the baseball strike of 1994 — which canceled Cactus League play in Arizona — cost the region $145 million. The study also noted that Mesa, AZ had become a favorite vacation destination of Chicago Cubs fans that came to see their favorite team train. Spartanburg will lose not only the patronage of those who spend the duration of camp in the 280,000 person city, but the economic stimulus provided by the large groups of Panthers fans who pack their cars and head to Spartanburg for a two-day football weekend.

RELATED: Training Camp Towns: Mankato, MN


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