Uptown businesses welcome return of ACC Championship game

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte's Romare Bearden Park is getting a slight makeover for ESPN's College GameDay, which is coming to uptown on Saturday.

The growing popularity of Romare Bearden offers viewers a different perspective of the Queen City, according to Robert Krumbine of Center City Partners.

"It used to be our square, but everything was at the square, at the square, at the square, but now you've got landscapes," Krumbine said. "You've got a place that says it all."

And what a difference a year can make.

In 2016, the ACC Championship was pulled from Charlotte because of fallout connected to HB2, and uptown restaurants felt the effect.

Operators of The French Quarter across from Romare Bearden say the absence of college football last year impacted this year's bottom line.

George Photopolous says the family business has taken a hit.

"With us losing out on that last year, we start off the year with a negative. With it having two great teams playing each other, that's a negative for us," Photopolous said.

Now, returning fans can be spelled out as a positive.

"There is a lot of businesses as people work part-time to serve events, parking cars and selling tickets. For many it's the money they use to provide Christmas gifts for their family," said Bob Morgan, who heads up the Charlotte Chamber. "Yes, we'll have 70-plus thousand fans who are in the stadium. There are a whole lot of other fans who benefit from an event like this. So its great to have them back."

That means stocking up back at the French Quarter.

"So we have extra staff, extra beer," Photopolous said, "so we're ready for it."

If you want to be one of the hundreds of people who are cheering and holding signs in the background of the ESPN desk for College GameDay, you can start lining up as early as 4 a.m. Saturday morning. The pit is expected to open around 6:30 a.m. with the show beginning at 9 a.m.

College GameDay is a popular ESPN show that travels to a new location every week to preview college football games.

The park will have tight security as hundreds of people are expected to show up for the event. There are no bags or purses allowed in the event as well as no food or drinks, so you'll want to eat beforehand.

Copyright 2017 WBTV. All rights reserved.