By Jenn Bernstein
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBS) — State College, PA- Two days after Joe Paterno’s bronze statue was removed, crews tore down the wall that served as its backdrop. A fence with barriers, and a blue cover concealed some of the work, but it was hard to hide the sounds of drilling, as every trace of the former beloved statue was taken down.
As the football program tries to pick up the pieces, there’s worry it’s not the only thing that will suffer from the NCAA sanctions. Every football home game, State College businesses enjoy tens of thousands of visitors that eat in restaurants, stay in town, and spend money.
“They’re really great weekends for us,” said The Family Clothesline’s Advertising Manager Caroline Gummo. “We’re not really sure what we’re looking at. This is really unchartered territory. We have no idea.”
Zimmies Family Restaurant is on West College Avenue. During games it counts on foot traffic from visitors, not just their fiercely loyal customers – students.
“I know with the students they are all going to stay, they’re going to be here supporting all of us,” said Zimmie’s Manager Barry Wicks. “We’re just worried about other people. Are they going to support us?”
The Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau says a Penn State study from 1999 showed the local economy saw $83 million directly and indirectly during season home games. Several local businesses will meet at the Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau Tuesday night to talk about the potential economic impact from the NCAA sanctions.
“This is an opening dialogue to get things going,” said the bureau’s executive director, Betsey Howell. “There is concern about the loss of foot traffic, and that’s why we are starting these conversations.”
Howell says it is an impromptu meeting with a variety of individual businesses and various groups like The Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County. The meeting is not open to the media. She says this is the first step, as businesses try to move forward.
“I would hope nobody holds what happened against the community and against these kids that are here to play football. They had nothing to do with it,” said Howell. “This is a great community and we work well together, and I think we will continue to work well together and get through this.” Howell told Eyewitness News the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County will hold another meeting on Thursday.