Big 12 Fans Have Potential to Boost Local Economy - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Big 12 Fans Have Potential to Boost Local Economy

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The Oklahoma Sooner Marching Band landed at the North-Central West Virginia airport in Bridgeport Friday afternoon. It will be the first Big 12 organization that will arrive and depart from that airport.

County officials and local businesses said they are optimistic about the economic boost Big 12 tourism could bring to the area.

"We've been very fortunate to be full almost every time we have a game," said Susan Lefler, the front office manager at the Best Western Bridgeport Inn. "It's great and I think a lot of hotels in the area are saying the same."

County officials said the economic potential is greatest when fans start their trip locally.

"All teams have flown out so far, but this is our first time that we've had people visiting and starting their trip right where we want them in the North-Central West Virginia airport," said airport director Rick Rock. "They're going to have the opportunity to stay in our hotels in West Virginia and visit some of our retail shops hopefully and be able to eat in our restaurants."

Harrison County Commissioner Ron Watson said he hopes the Oklahoma Sooner band will be the first of many Big 12 groups to fly and stay locally, instead of opting for the longer commute from Pittsburgh.

"These Big 12 teams have good following," Watson said. "We're looking that if we market it correctly, we should get most of the teams in the Big 12 that's coming to West Virginia to bring their people in and give them a great opportunity to visit our state."