College football returns to Oklahoma. However, this year came with a bit of a surprise.
"It's like almost like having an extra Christmas for retailers and restaurants and bars down here on Campus Corner," said Jeff Stewart, a manager at O'Connell's.
Opening day for Norman businesses that thrive on game days is being moved up. Hurricane Ida forced the OU-Tulane game to be played in Norman, instead of New Orleans.
Stewart said the foot traffic will be great for business, but with short notice, many restaurants in the area are short-staffed.
"A lot of our staff is gone," said Stewart. "Some of them are from Texas. They're going home for the weekend."
OU officials said because Tulane is still the designated home team, they'll receive all the proceeds through ticket sales, but for the City of Norman, this change is crucial for the economy.
"Typically, we see about a $10 million direct spend from home games," said Dan Schemm, with Visit Norman.
City officials said some businesses took a hit during the pandemic. Last season, the Sooners saw five home football games, but less people made the trip to Norman with limited stadium capacity.
"Typically, we're sold out for a game day throughout all of our hotels and properties," said Schemm. "We were seeing 25 to 40% occupancy for games last year."
The university said because of the short notice, they will also be affected by staffing at the game. Only the lower bowl of the stadium including clubs and suites will be available.
The game will start at 11 a.m. Saturday and will be the first of four straight home games in Norman.
Click here to learn more about OU's tailgating for 2021 season.