MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – This weekend kicks off the University of Memphis football season as the team takes on Ole Miss at the Liberty Bowl.
We’re told the anticipation of this year’s football season and basketball season has Memphis gear literally flying off the shelves.
At the Tiger Bookstore, fans are shopping till they drop, buying up Tigers gear. One longtime fan says the energy now is much different than in years past.
“This is a different blue wave in Memphis, TN. Not a political, an athletic blue wave,” says Tigers fan Judy Luther.
The manager at the Tiger Bookstore says sales have skyrocketed in the past year. One example? The $5 t-shirts that are sold the week of home games. Last year they averaged selling 2000 the week of each home game. This year, 4,800 were sold in the past 7 days. They are now sold out and waiting for a new order.
“We are up 10 times over last year about this time. It’s just everything basketball and football coming together at the same time,” says manager Lee Rainey.
Membership numbers for the Memphis Tigers Football Booster Club, known as the Highland Hundred, are also rising.
“The Highland Hundred is growing with the program,” says the club’s spokesperson Todd Adams.
Anyone can join the booster club, which raises money to help support the football program.
Last year, there were 368 members. Now they have almost 430, and they hope to reach 500 members by the second home game. They say recruiting new members gets easier the more successful the football program is.
“We are growing in numbers and people definitely want to be a part of the University of Memphis Tiger football,” says Adams.
“I think we are going to have a really good year,” says student Kayla King.
“I have a feeling they are more excited this year than they was last year,” says fan Gwendolyn Clark.
The resurgence in Tiger sports isn’t just in football. Since Penny Hardaway became the head basketball coach, the Rebounders Basketball Booster Club numbers have doubled. There are 500 members currently and they expect the number to rise to 700 this year, maybe more.
No matter the sports, Tiger fans say right now is a good time to be a Tiger.
“The momentum is incredible. People are so excited. We just can’t wait for it to get started,” says Luther.