SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame's undefeated season and national title hopes mean a new national spotlight is being shined on South Bend. Economically, this football season has been a great one for the South Bend area.
Local hotels, restaurants and stores have all reaped the benefits. In fact, the Irish's incredible season has even caused a new store to open.
It hasn't even been a week since Irish Fever opened, and merchandise is already selling out.
"Three or four different shirts have already sold out and we've had to reorder; glassware was very, very popular," said store manager Don Mensen.
Irish Fever is a temporary brick and mortar store that specializes in sports merchandise. Mensen says workers are processing about 120 credit card transactions a day. Some of that change will go back to the city through sales taxes.
"Tax revenue, 7% percent on all your shirts and all your hats and stuff, and I think by having stores like this, everybody is in a pretty good mood. If they come to a strip mall like this, they may stop next door or at the Applebee's across the street," Mensen said.
"When the team's doing well that affects us even stronger. We've seen this year, a lot of bars, restaurants and hotels broke their own records for sales," said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who says new stores like Irish Fever are an added bonus. "This is a time when all of us in local government are laser focused on creating jobs, so it's terrific to have a job creating engine like the success of the football program," he explained.
At Irish Fever, Mensen has been hiring to keep up with day to day operations. New jobs, big sales... all part of the ripple effect of Notre Dame's incredible season.
Here's a fun fact: Mayor Buttigieg actually knows the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He says he hopes to get a friendly wager going with him. Buttigieg plans to bet a box of South Bend chocolates that Notre Dame wins. He's still waiting to find out what the Tuscaloosa mayor may wager in return.