High school football championship brings millions to Putnam County

(Photo: WKRN)

COOKVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The population of Cookeville will double over the next three days as 40,000 people are expected to attend the Blue Cross Bowl.

The Tennessee High School Football Championship is the biggest event in Cookeville and Putnam County this year.

“In the past, we’re between $2.5 and $3 million economic impact over the three days, so our hospitality partners are really happy and our community is as well,” said Zack Ledbetter, Vice President Visitor Development of Cookeville-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce.

That money comes from people staying at hotels, eating in restaurants, buying gas and shopping at local stores.

For those who help host the championship, this weekend is about showcasing the area and making fans feel welcome and wanting more.

(Photo: WKRN)

“It’s that brand to get those fans and those players to think about Cookeville and possibly plan that future trip just for a day trip, or come and spend a few days for vacation or just a quick weekend getaway,” said Ledbetter.

“It really brings the community together, and I think that the county, the city, the chamber, Tennessee Tech, we have reaped benefits since blue cross bowl with companies locating here with other ventures that we’ve done together as a total community,” said Tennessee Tech’s Director of Athletics, Mark Wilson.

“We want to put out the red carpet and welcome the folks that are coming here to spend their time and money watching their loved ones play football and we want them to have a great time while they’re here,” said Cookeville Mayor Ricky Shelton.

The championship will be in town for at least another three years and that’s good news for business owner Mark Pullum.

He owns Ralph’s Do-nut Shop, just down the street from Tennessee Tech.

He said he usually sells several hundred donuts a day. This weekend, he said he’ll sell several thousand.

“It is one of the busiest weekends,” said Pullum. “It means everyone is running and on their toes because everything here is done by hand.”

The Blue Cross Bowl kicks off Thursday and lasts through Saturday.