Rivalry game important financially

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rivals Chilton County and Jemison will play a football game Thursday evening, it appears, despite Hurricane Isaac dropping rain on Chilton County.

CCHS coach Donnie Hand sure wants it to go off as planned, and not for the reason that might immediately come to mind. Sure, Hand wants to avenge last year’s 29-13 loss to the Panthers in his first year as Chilton’s coach.

But perhaps even more important than winning is the financial boon the game would create for the program.

“It’s a big game financially for both teams,” said Hand, whose team will host JHS at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Tiger Stadium in Clanton unless plans change.

Last year, with the game being played at Panther Stadium, Jemison made about $22,000 just off admission, which costs $6 per person, coach Merritt Bowden said. That doesn’t count money generated through parking donations that benefits the football program’s booster club.

“We’ve depended on that game a lot because there haven’t been teams in our area that have brought a lot of people,” Bowden said.

With a bigger stadium and a more central location, CCHS could stand to make even more money–if the rain doesn’t keep people away. To compare, Hand said the program can usually expect to bring in $2,500-$3,000 for an average home game.

There’s nothing average about the Highway 31 Throwdown. It’s easily the most attended game in Chilton County each year. The teams play during the first week of the regular season, when anticipation is at its peak, and they play on Thursday instead of Friday so everybody in the county can attend and not miss their team’s game.

“When you’ve got games like this, you want everybody to come watch you,” Hand said. “This is the year, when you’re playing this game at home, where if you need a piece of equipment or uniforms, this is the year where you think you can do it.”