Notre Dame’s new partnership with the ACC could also be a big deal beyond Notre Dame – including potential for new jobs and an increase in tourism. Notre Dame is already Indiana’s largest tourist attraction, second only to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeff Rea.
And adding a list of ACC colleges and universities to play Notre Dame in sports will ultimately benefit the research side of the university and likely draw even more people to South Bend.
South Bend Regional Airport Director Mike Daigle said the partnership could potentially mean new flights and even new airlines in and out of South Bend.
“We’ve got now a whole range of new cities and new destinations that could become viable for us,” Daigle said. “We obviously can’t make any promises but we are confident that we're going to do a complete analysis and evaluate what the opportunities are and then based upon that, then we'll be knocking on doors and visiting airlines and making the pitch that we're a good fit for them too.”
Part of that analysis includes looking at the places other local industries and people who live here want to travel.
A 2009 Forbes Magazine study said each Notre Dame home weekend brings more than $10 million to our area. Economic growth because of the new conference could be extensive, Rea said.
“People come here, it’s on their bucket list. They come whether they're coming to a football game or coming just to visit campus or because they want to see the Basilica or the Golden Dome,” he continued.
A new conference also means some new teams, new rivalries and new visitors.
“When you start thinking about where those markets are that people are coming from, those are people that likely have to fly, likely have to spend their night in a hotel, likely are going to sit at a restaurant and eat while they're in town. So we think from a visitor's standpoint it could be significant,” Rea added.
It could also be significant on the jobs front. We’ve already seen research at Notre Dame lead to high tech, high paying jobs at Innovation Park, near campus. There’s a good chance the ACC partnership will extend well beyond the playing field.
“When you look at Georgia Tech, for example, [it’s] one of the top engineering schools in the country. When you look at North Carolina or Duke and some of the things they’re doing in research and the medical field, it opens up a whole new thing,” said Rea.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg recently met with Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels to talk about economic growth and development. One resource the mayor said he plans to tap into is home Notre Dame game weekends. For example, when an investor or developer is looking at South Bend, Mayor Pete said it could be very beneficial to take them to a game and let them experience what Notre Dame is all about.