EUGENE, SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KMTR) – The Oregon Ducks are set for another night-side home game this weekend against the Washington Huskies, the third of five home games this season to start at night. The constant late starts are not only affecting fans, but also local business.
The 7:30 p.m. start time has brought good, bad and adjustments for two local restaurants that we checked in with this week.
Downtown Eugene’s “Ambrosia Restaurant and Bar" says every Duck game brings some sort of upswing in business.
The Friday before the game, Ambrosia’s owner Armon Keverkian says he sees traveling fans taking a night out on the town and enjoying a meal out.
But come Saturday, Ambrosia says the 7:30 p.m. start times cut their dinner traffic. With night games ending around 11 p.m., Duck fans aren’t going back to downtown Eugene for dinner, according to Keverkian.
However, with 25 years in businesses, Ambrosia doesn't only rely on Duck crowds for all of its business.
“We have learned how to trim labor, expect an amount of business and do provisions to compensate for the time on Saturday's that are slow,” says Armon Keverkian, owner of Ambrosia Restaurant.
Ambrosia says it would benefit big if every game started at noon.
Meanwhile, over in Springfield, Hop Valley Brewing Company says the night games have helped their business nearly every night, thanks to travelers staying overnight.
Hop Valley says it has stayed open later to accommodate the crowds. Typically, Hop Valley closes at 1 a.m. Saturday night (technically Sunday morning.) With night games, Hop Valley has stayed open until 2 a.m. on Saturday night. That helped lead Hop Valley towards its “best Saturday” when the Ducks played Arizona.
“We've had some great times with traveling teams in the restaurant. We treat everybody pretty well, we're glad to see them, good for the community, good for everybody when they travel, so we treat them very well, we're glad that they come we hope they have a great time but a bad night,” says Ed Lackington, general manager of Hop Valley Brewing Company.
Hop Valley says it would prefer if the home games started around 4 p.m. so that the business could get a big lunch and dinner crowd.
As Hop Valley has seen more night game business, so have local hotels. Tourism representatives at Eugene Cascades and Coast say the majority of rooms are booked for the Washington game as a higher rate than normal. Valley River Inn in Eugene is on hotel that’s noticed the upswing in business from the night games.
A percentage of the price people pay to stay in hotel rooms goes to the Lane County Transient Room Tax. That money goes to local governments, museums, special projects, tourism promotion and more.
"Rooms are really at a premium right now, so we're tracking room availability very carefully, so we're encouraging people to call if they're still needing rooms, and we'll let you know what's available, if there's any cancellations, but at this point things are pretty much booked up for the local area,” says Lisa Lawton, a spokeswoman for Eugene Cascades and Coast, the Lane County tourism organization.
The reason for all of the night games mostly has to do with television broadcasting. For example, if ESPN broadcasts a Duck game, since the team is good, the network will put the game live in primetime on the west coast, driving the start time to about 7:30 or 8 p.m.
Most of those television broadcast are worked out one to two weeks before the game, the standard is 12 days.
Oregon has two more home games this season following the Washington game, versus Colorado and Stanford. No start times have been announced for those games at this point.