City of Jackson Didn’t Fight for Capital City Classic
Jackson, MS Mayor Harvey Johnson recently commented on Alcorn State University’s withdrawal from the Capital City Classic, saying he was ‘disappointed’ and outlining his efforts to renew the game that brings an approximate $3 million dollar annual economic impact to the city.
“The Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau has been very involved over the past several months discussing the Classic with representatives from Alcorn and offered a proposal which would pay for transportation, lodging and meals for the football team, athletic staff, cheerleaders, the band and student representatives. Additionally, the proposal by the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau would pay for the Pep Rally, Coaches Media Luncheon, Classic Golf Tournament, Presidents’ Reception and a Step Show. All told, the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau made a commitment of approximately $160,000 to Alcorn to hold the 2012 Classic in the Capital City.
Really? $160K is good enough for Alcorn State and Jackson State University when the city stands to make nearly $3 million? Come on mayor. The Braves and the Tigers deserve much more than that.
If Jackson really had a vested interest in the game, they would have more hands reaching out for corporate support, marketing and ancillary fundraising events benefiting the two schools. Most HBCU football classics featuring in-state rivals have few problems attracting a corporate title sponsor or a slate of lower level sponsors, knowing that their branding and messaging will be exposed to more than 30,000 educated black folks with decent income and future earning potential.
Suggesting that $160K of in-kind support is an equitable trade on the brand power of SWAC football in Lorman and Jackson is not only unfair, its bordering on disrespectful. JSU is a regular contender for the conference title, and its student body alone generates millions of dollars in economic impact for the community. Alcorn State, with the hiring of a history-making coach in Jay Hopson and the media attention following it, brings cultural leverage to the state in race relations and media impact.
You can’t match the impact of those two elements with $160,000. Maybe not even for $1.6 million dollars.
I had a chance to speak with Jackson State University Vice President of Institutional Advancement David Hoard on ASU’s decision. Not surprisingly, Hoard was very supportive of the Braves exercising their home game option.
“It was Alcorn’s home game, and we support our sister institution in its decision to bring the game to Lorman,” Hoard said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Hoard said that there will be a small financial hit to JSU, as the university commonly budgets for revenues from the Classic, but that “it won’t be something we can’t survive.”
“Alcorn will collect revenues from this year’s game in Lorman, and we’ll be able to do the same in Jackson next year,” Hoard said.
Alcorn State and Jackson State being on the same team regarding the Capital City Classic should be a model for all HBCUs that draw big money from their respective classics. Black college culture is a multi-million dollar economic ecosystem, with black college football at the heart of its existence.
Cities and corporations must show HBCUs love for their measurable economic impact beyond the football field. And if they can’t, HBCUs should be more aggressive in bringing their brand and fans back to campus and letting the money follow them.