CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Since it began in 2002, Charlotte's college football bowl game has provided a much-needed year end boost to the local economy. But this year the boost is not likely to be as large as in years past.
This year's Meineke Car Care Bowl features Clemson and South Florida.
"The fan bases are different," said Will Webb of bowl organizer Raycom Sports (WBTV and WIS are owned by Raycom). "Clemson's local. USF's from way down in Tampa."
And it's the USF fan base that is the biggest cause for concern when it comes to attendance. So far the school has only sold about 3,000 tickets for the game, which is far below what other Big East schools have sold in the past.
As of Monday, Webb estimates around 40,000 tickets have been sold for Friday's game. He says that's on pace with last year, when UNC played Pittsburgh. Last year's game had the lowest attendance in the bowl's eight-year history.
In theory, Clemson should bring in about the same number of fans as the Wolfpack did. But bowl organizers say they're worried controversy among the fan base over coach Dabo Swinney could be hurting sales.
Although Swinney has ardent supporters, there are some among Clemson's fan base who feel he shouldn't have been hired as head coach due to lack of experience, and who question some of the decisions he made during the team's 6-6 season.