Sports bars hope for profitable TaxSlayer Gator Bowl weekend

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sports bars that were forced to close at the height of the pandemic back in March said college sports had in many ways kept them afloat.

Strings Sports Brewery opened in the summer of 2019 in Springfield but shut its doors for three months during the pandemic. The owners hope this year’s TaxSlayer Gator Bowl brings in extra foot traffic to help keep the doors open.

”Football has always been really good to us as far as business,” Victoria Hernandez, whose husband owns the brewery, said. “[Fans] are always showing up and showing out.”

The business works with the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization nonprofit which aims to represent Springfield neighbors and businesses.

The organization’s executive director, Kelly Rich, said this year they’re partnering with the Tax Slayer Gator Bowl and kicking off the weekend with a “Music on Main” event which starts Friday night at 6 p.m.

”With the loss of the Landing and all the entertainment aspects that was so regular in past years, there was a missing component and we stepped up,” she said.

Over the past years, the neighborhood has grown by about 1,000 and up to 20 new businesses. Rich said many of them had to get creative and unfortunately they lost one business to the pandemic.

She’s hopeful the bowl game will bring a much-needed boost.

The game between NC State and Kentucky kicks off at noon Saturday with extra safety precautions during the pandemic.

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