SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday's Utah-TCU college football game was great for downtown Salt Lake City businesses, particularly eateries, that packed in the fans in the hours leading up to the game.
Business owners, though, say the Utah Jazz is what keeps more people coming downtown all winter long.
With Real Salt Lake soccer in Sandy, the Jazz is the only major league professional team downtown, and local businesses appreciate the 41 regular-season home games.
"We fill it up," said Travis Cude, the manager for the downtown Iggy's restaurant. "Football is great, the Super Bowl is great, but the Jazz games are the best for us."
Cude, who schedules extra staff whenever the Jazz play at EnergySolutions Arena, said a typical Jazz home game brings a 25 percent increase in business.
"People hit us up before the game, and sometimes back from the game before they get on the freeway to go home," he said.
Fans also like to cheer for the Jazz by wearing their team clothing.
Fanzz, which sells Utah Jazz merchandise, built a newer store inside EnergySolutions Arena this year.
Even though the store is open when the Jazz aren't playing at home, the ESA location does well because of home games.
"We tend to forget a little bit about the bad economy. Things are good," said Troy Osborn, the western regional manager for Fanzz stores. "At local stores, business is up during Jazz games. It's very important for our business."
Jazz home games are also important to stores at the Gateway Mall, which sits just a block away from the arena.
At Lolabella Boutique, Anne Wondershek said so many customers come to the Gateway during Jazz home games that it gives her small shop a chance to get discovered.
"Oh, definitely; especially for a little, locally owned and operated boutique," said Wondershek. "We're not super well-known, and we're not as huge as some of the other big, corporate stores, but it's nice to get people to come in and see what we have to offer."
She wishes the NBA could find a way to have the Jazz play home every night.
"It would be nice. I'd take it. That's for sure," said Wondershek.
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