MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Despite the ongoing water challenges in Memphis, city leaders said the annual Liberty Bowl game between Arkansas and Kansas will be played tomorrow afternoon as planned.
The water situation will likely have a major impact on attendance, and the businesses that rely on serving Liberty Bowl fans will be temporarily closed. This includes hotels.
One Arkansas fan said he had to change his reservations last minute in order to attend this long-awaited match-up between Arkansas and Kansas.
“They said it would probably be tough if we stayed there, we wouldn’t have water. So, we ended up flipping our reservation over to a hotel in West Memphis, Arkansas," Ben Larsen said.
Larsen is one of an estimated 60,000 fans expected in the Memphis area for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl game Wednesday.
It's 60,000 more people who will need access to an unsure supply of water.
“'Plan A's’ don’t always work out in life," Larsen said. “You have plans, and you want those plans to come through; sometimes you have to pivot, you have to adjust."
Larsen's "plan A" was to stay at the Marriott in downtown Memphis, now he’s staying nearly 30 minutes away.
“It is like a 20, 25-minute difference from where our new hotel is compared to the Marriott downtown Memphis.”
The Memphis hotel and lodging association said while they have been able to accommodate almost everyone, hotels still will not earn same money that was projected for them before the winter weather.
“We’ve been able to accommodate most people on moving them if they wanted to be moved to a hotel that had water," Wayne Tabor the CEO of Metropolitan Memphis Hotel and Lodging Association said. “Yes, there’ll be less revenue generated than we anticipated for this event.”
And while the Liberty Bowl is usually great for business, Tabor says it's just another reminder of the city's need to update infrastructure.
“We need to change some of those priorities and work on our infrastructure to make sure something like this does not happen again," Tabor said.