Valdosta, GA - It's one of the biggest high school football games of the year in our area. The Winnersville Classic pits the Valdosta Wildcats against the Lowndes Vikings. And that game can mean big business.
Ticket sales for this game were through the roof. It's so important because school sports don't get money from the schools at all.
In fact, ticket sales for this game will be the single biggest money maker for the Wildcats athletic programs all year.
A general admission ticket - $8 dollars.
A Reserved Seat - $12 dollars.
But the contribution to high school athletics, that's priceless.
More than 10,000 tickets were sold to fill these bleachers. That money provides upwards of $65,000 for Valdosta School Sports.
Those funds go to jerseys, field equipment and other expenses..
But what about the surrounding community. These tailgaters bought groceries and utensils from local stores. And they spent a lot.
John Bellamy, Tailgator, shared about his tailgate supplies: "this roughly at least a grand. although maybe a little more. But at least a grand."
And local businesses thrive on the sales. One business selling Greek Row T's and trophies know in Valdosta, high school football is king.
Randy Steedley, Greek Row: "yes this is usually our largest sales day that we have. We move close to 1,000 t-shirts."
A short walk from the stadium is the El Jalisco Mexican restaurant.
They're getting ready to serve as many tailgaters who find their way in for dinner.
Carlos Vega, El Jalisco, "we have tacos, beer, sandwiches, toastadas. Our food is very, very authentic."
But even if there isn't much of a crowd, it's all bueno, they'll still capitalize on selling their prime parking spots.
So the Winnersville Classic is great for the schools and great for the community.
But the real winners of the game are students and the fans out here today.
Previous Story, Valdosta, GA, October 8, 2012 - Hundreds of fans lined up around the block at the Valdosta ticket office to get their Winnersville Classic tickets.
Dirk Harrell, Wildcats Fan: "it's in the water. It's in the air. You wake up its wildcat football. Across town it's Lowndes football. It's ah, you don't have a choice."
Shaquanda Hall, Former Wildcat: "it's been hectic. I have to work at five and the line seems not to be moving fast at all."
Monday's sales were for season ticket holders, Tuesday is for parents of varsity football, band and cheerleaders starting at 8 am, and whatever is left come Wednesday is for the general public.
The game is Friday night at Bazemore/Hyder Stadium next to Valdosta State University, and organizers say without a shred of doubt that it will be a packed house.
These super fans never miss a Winnersville Classic.
Dirk Harrell: "I’m 45 years old. I'd say I’ve been to 44 of them."
Shaquanda Hall: "ever since I was a kid. Growing up I’ve always been a wildcat."
Sales are cash only, and there are only so many, so if you want them you'd better hurry.
Dirk Harrell: "Always excited for the Winnersville Classic. Nothing like it anywhere in the country."