TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — The coronavirus has made a huge impact on the economy in West Alabama, causing deaths and sending many to the hospital. The deadly illness has also impacted the economy in Tuscaloosa.

But ever since University of Alabama President Stuart Bell announced there would be a football season and games played at Bryant-Denny Stadium in September, that was the best news Daniel Eggers, operational manager at World of Beer, had ever heard.

“We really depend on that football season to carry us through some of the tougher times in Tuscaloosa,” Eggers said. “We are in a college town and some of the business is seasonal.  Now that football will be played is something we are excited about.”

Fall semester begins Aug. 19 and more than 38,000 UA students are expected to return to Tuscaloosa for school. Eggers said that without his student base of customers and home game football fans his business would not survive.

“One of the things is how it drives the economy here.  We hire people here to help us produce our product,” Eggers said. “If students don’t come back or if football season was closed, lots of people here could lose their jobs.”  

Mayor Walt Maddox said the University of Alabama is very important to the local economy.

“Well, for Tuscaloosa, it’s everything,” Maddox said. “The University has an over $2 billion economic impact. And in early March when 27,000 students who live out of state left Tuscaloosa that was an over half a billion economic impact to our community. So there couldn’t be a better time to see students come back.”

Many bars and restaurants were forced to close down last March as a result of COVID-19.  But the Mayor is hoping things will turn around and the struggling businesses will grow stronger as a result of the upcoming UA school year.