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Football playoffs mean big bucks
Schools, businesses expect windfall from showdown
Tiffany Jones fills an order Tuesday evening at the Ronnie Green Parkway Subway location. Friday night’s Class AAA state semifinal football game between Gainesville High at Flowery Branch High at City Park is expected to bring a lot of hungry fans into nearby businesses.
Class AAA playoffs
Who: Flowery Branch at Gainesville
Where: City Park
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $10. Gainesville season ticket holders can pick up their tickets from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. today in the high school lobby. General admission tickets go on sale beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday. At Flowery Branch, tickets can be purchased from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. through Friday in the main office.
Tailgate: Gainesville High will hold a tailgate catered by Johnny’s BBQ from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. Friday in the Green Street pool parking lot.
Coming Friday: A special section previewing the Duel for the Dome state semifinal, with scouting reports, matchups, lineups and rosters for each team. Available only in print editions of The Times, available at retail outlets and news racks throughout Northeast Georgia. To have The Times delivered to your home, click here or call 770-532-2222.

Stay up-to-date on area high school football with the Blitz.

Poll: Who will win Friday's game?

When it comes down to it, the high school football Class AAA state semifinal game is just a game. But for some, it is big business.

When Flowery Branch High School and Gainesville High School compete Friday for a spot in the state championship game, scores of fans from both schools are expected to fill City Park Stadium to cheer for their teams.

As a result of all the excitement, the schools and nearby businesses are likely in for a lucrative evening.

"Tickets are $10 a piece," said Shannon Benton, athletic director for Flowery Branch High School. "(Georgia High School Association) receives a cut for trophies and their expenses, then Gainesville and (Flowery Branch) will split the gain."

With the visiting team a short drive away, the stadium likely will be packed.

"I think this is going to be an exceptional game," Benton said.

Gainesville Athletic Director Wayne Vickery estimates up to 6,000 people may be there, if the weather is good.

"It all boils down to the weather," Vickery said. "The women and children aren’t coming when it’s raining."

The early forecast from the National Weather Service calls for chilly temperatures and a slight chance of rain Friday night.

Both Vickery and Benton said the extra money is nice, but it often goes to making necessary purchases and repairs.

"The saying used to be we need to make it to the playoffs to cover the budget," Vickery said.

Benton said the money collected from ticket sales likely will stay within the program.

"It goes back to the kids," Benton said. "Football is expensive."

Vickery said revenue from football ticket sales also is crucial to other athletic programs, such as cross country or tennis, that don’t have the same kind of fan base.

"Football pays the way; it pays the bills," Vickery said. "Football in the South is really big."

Flowery Branch High made a total of $72,000 from its postseason playoff games last year, $36,000 of that coming from the state championship game at the Georgia Dome, where the winner of Friday’s game will advance to play Dec. 12.

Ticket sales from the Gainesville High football season brought in $83,589 last fall, according to The Times archives.

Businesses around City Park Stadium benefit from football, too.

Zaxby’s manager Justin Urban said the restaurant on Ronnie Green Parkway is eager to serve hungry football fans who crowd the restaurant on Friday nights in the fall. He said he has a 60 percent larger staff working on Friday nights to accommodate demand that soars during football season.

"We get extremely busy. It’s a good thing," Urban said. "We do maybe double what we normally do, especially when both teams are local."

He calls the chaotic influx a "side effect" of the community support for local schools.

"We really like to see people come out and support their local teams," he said.

Tiffany Jones, manager of Subway, said extra people will be on hand to work Friday both inside and outside the store.

"I’ll be out in the parking lot," Jones said. "If not, (fans) will fill it up."

Jones said some spots will be reserved for customers, but others will be on sale to football fans for $5.

Anitra Wilson, the manager of Dairy Queen, said the restaurant already is preparing for additional business Friday.

"We’re making sure everything is good and stocked up and that people are working," Wilson said. "The more people come, the better business we get."

Times staff reporter Jessica Jordan contributed to this story.