South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier reacts during the second quarter of the game against the Clemson Tigers at Clemson Memorial Stadium. (Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports)
TAMPA, Florida -- The South Carolina Gamecocks touched down at Tampa International Airport Wednesday afternoon, ahead of their 2013 Outback Bowl date with the Michigan Wolverines.
Last year's game, a triple-overtime thriller, featured Michigan State and Georgia. But regardless of the action on the field, organizers of the game argue that no matter who wins on the football field, the Tampa Bay region will earn a big "V" for victory.
The Outback Bowl has had a $1 billion economic impact on Tampa Bay over its 26-year history, according to estimates by the bowl. Seventeen years ago, Outback Steakhouse purchased naming rights to the previously-named Hall of Fame Bowl.
While the $1 billion estimate may seem lofty, it includes what visitors spend during visits to Tampa Bay as well as the trickle-down effect of their money. It also includes the value of free exposure for Tampa Bay on national TV.
You could also also say there's some serious economic impact for the schools in the Big Ten and the SEC. Colleges are paid to play here, with a combined $7.2 million payout for this game.
That will be split up throughout their conferences using a formula, but it averages out to more than a quarter-million dollars per school.
You know, we can all take advantage of this, too. If you want to take your family out to have some fun, here's the schedule of public Outback Bowl events:
December 30 - Clearwater Beach Day - 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
At Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach with live music and events with the schools' bands and cheerleaders
December 31 - Parade and Pep Rally - 5:30 p.m.
Parade down 7th Avenue in Ybor City
December 31 - Fireworks and Ball Drop - Midnight
Fireworks celebration at Channelside Bay Plaza in Tampa
January 1 - Outback Bowl Game - 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Tickets are still available for the New Year's Day bowl game at Raymond James Stadium ($75 each).
For the story of Tampa-based Outback Steakhouse, watch Why do they call it that? Outback Steakhouse, born in Tampa Bay.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News