Updated 08/16/2012 06:20 PM
Jets pack up, leave mark on Cortland
After two years of anticipation, Jets camp has come and gone in Cortland. But did the crowds and out-of-town business boost meet expectations? Our Tamara Lindstrom has more.
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The players may be gone, but Gang Green has left its mark on the City of Cortland.
"Stories are starting to float around about meeting up with players. Business owners will talk about players and coaches in their establishments," said Bob Haight, executive director of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce. "You can feel the energy level in town has just been tremendous these past three weeks."
And once again, the unassuming city finds itself the center of national attention.
"I picked up a USA Today, there was Cortland prominently there," Haight said. "ESPN was doing daily updates because of the quarterback situation here with the Jets."
This year, the fan count over the three week training camp was a little under 36,000, down from 41,000 two years ago. And though an economic boost is certain, the single practice schedule may have affected spending.
"When there were two practices a day, our golf courses, for instance, would get people filling them up in between the practices. And we'll find out now from some of those types of businesses whether people stayed around for multiple practices or if they just came to town and returned home after," Haight said.
While local businesses welcomed the tens of thousands of visitors, the university is seeing the benefits of being in the limelight as well, with a record number of applicants hoping to get in this fall.
"We were just shy of 13,000 applications for 1,200 openings. So it's a very gifted class," said SUNY Cortland president Erik Bitterbaum. "We've become highly selective. It's wonderful for faculty to have these very gifted students to challenge them in the classroom. People want to come to a place like SUNY Cortland because they know they'll get a great education and everybody has the word 'Cortland' on their tongue. We're very lucky."
And while the school is celebrating a boost in status, those incoming students have something else on their minds.
"Everyone is curious," Bitterbaum said. "I know the big one will be where did Tim Tebow sleep?”
A secret administrators are happy to share.
In 2010, Jets camp brought about $6 million into the local economy. It will take about two months for this year's numbers to be tallied and released.