Looking for tickets?
Looking for tickets for todays Georgia vs. USC game? Expect to pay at least twice the $70 face value.
Stubhub.com had tickets listed this week from $175 to almost $1,500. Vividseats.com had them listed in the $158 to $850 range.
The No. 6-ranked Gamecocks host the No. 5 Bulldogs at 7 tonight at Williams-Brice Stadium in the first meeting in Columbia between two Top-10 teams.
Todays matchup between the No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks and the No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs at Columbias Williams-Brice Stadium is more than a big game: Its big business.
With ESPNs GameDay program in town meaning the game is the headliner on the national all-sports network and Gamecock and Bulldogs fans pouring in by the tens of thousands, hotels are booked up, restaurants are braced for the rush, retail stores are doing bang-up business and bars are stocked to the rafters.
Weve seen an uptick of 30 percent over a standard game week, said Dan Stilwell, owner of the Gamecock Stop on Rosewood Drive, a retail store featuring all things Gamecock from T-shirts, to koozies, to the popular Under Armour coachs polo shirts.
Weve reordered T-shirts twice already, Stillwell said Wednesday. Thats an extra 350 T-shirts just this week.
The game, scheduled for 7 p.m., is being billed as the biggest home game in Gamecock history and the biggest game period since the then-No. 2-ranked 1984 team lost to Navy on the road.
Both teams are in the Southeastern Conferences Eastern Division and are undefeated, so the winner will have a huge advantage in the race for the conference championship and, perhaps, a national championship neither of which the Gamecocks ever have achieved.
Its huge, said Kelly Whitlock, owner of the TLC Sports Bar on South Stadium Drive, just a short walk from Williams-Brice and tucked among the condominium party pads, parking lots and party pavilions that encircle the stadium. Everybody is extremely excited.
Whitlock said that, in planning for the Georgia game, she has stocked 30 percent more beer and liquor than for a normal football weekend. In addition to her indoor bar, outdoor bar and beer stations set up on every corner of the property, Whitlock is bringing in a portable outdoor bar room, courtesy of Budweiser, that features seven plasma television sets.
Its like a Transformer, she said. It comes in as a tractor-trailer and turns into a two-story bar.
Its not just Gamecock fans that are driving the party bus.
This is a border war and Georgia fans are closer to Columbia than any other SEC team. And travel they do, equal to the crazed fans of Florida, LSU and Alabama.
The Bulldogs always travel well, said Bill Ellen, owner and general manager of the Clarion Hotel Columbia, which has been sold out for weeks and is guiding guests to outlying hotels. And with a late ESPN game, a lot of Gamecock fans (who might leave for home after an early game) are staying overnight. Its a good week.
With USCs final three home games of the season featuring tiny Wofford, a dismal Arkansas team and the struggling but improving Tennessee Volunteers, the Georgia game could be this years last big payoff for retailers, restaurants and hotels.
And even manicurists.
OCCO skin studio, at 1218 Pulaski St. in the Vista, reported steady business Friday, from both female USC and Georgia fans. For the USC fans, the studio was offering $15 manicures and $28 pedicures in black or garnet polish. And it was expecting more of the same today.
Tony Tam, general manager of the Hilton Columbia Center and the nearby Hampton Inn, both in the Vista, said this weekend is expected to eclipse the Missouri game of two weekends ago, which was the Tigers first foray into the SEC and also parents weekend for USC students. Both hotels have been sold out for months for Saturday.
Well know when the weekend is over, Tam said. But it will be neck and neck with the Missouri game. And Im looking for Tennessee and Arkansas to improve.
Joel Darr, general manager of the Columbia Marriott Downtown, said the game has created the greatest demand for rooms that has been seen for some time from Bulldog and Gamecock fans alike.
Were sold out, he said. The bar will fill up with boosters from both teams all day Friday and Saturday. Were nonpartisan.
The popular Blue Marlin restaurant in the Vista was expecting business to start picking up Thursday as fans began arriving. ESPN stage hands, crew and broadcasters typically also stop in for a meal or two. (The restaurants shrimp and grits has been featured on the programs Taste of the Town segments in years past.)
We have a ton of reservations and are expecting a very busy weekend, said Brian Dukes, Blue Marlin manager. Well have a ... great lunch on Saturday. Itll be dead on Saturday night, and then a great lunch on Sunday. Itll be crazy.
Anne-Kathryn Flanagan contributed to this article