HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) -- Businesses are hoping that Northern Kentucky University's move to Division I athletics will bring an economic boost to the area.
Skyline Tavern Manager Tom Kleinschmidt told The Kentucky Enquirer (http://bit.ly/RVEXgQ) he thinks the new competition will mean additional sports fans attending basketball games and other events. He says he hopes that translates into more customers at Skyline, which sits near the Highland Heights campus.
"Going D-1, I think people are going to be paying a lot more attention to basketball and other sports, so we hope to generate a lot more business from people coming in to see games, wanting to be around games," said Kleinschmidt, a NKU graduate. "Being close to the campus and being kind of a campus bar, and showing games and sporting events (on TV) -- if they're D-1, and games are on campus, hopefully we can be a part of it, and hopefully people will want to come see us before games or after games."
A recent exhibition men's soccer game against the University of Kentucky drew more than 1,000 fans to the soccer stadium. University officials say it was the first sell-out they've had at the two-year-old stadium, and they hope to have more.
"We're excited to welcome so many new guests to our campus and to have an even larger economic impact on local businesses," said university spokesman Chris Cole.
Steve Crawford, chairman of the city's planning and zoning committee, says NKU's move to Division I has also increased attention on development possibilities.
"The move to D-1 is big, because of the increased student traffic and the increased notoriety, and easy access to these (sports) facilities," Crawford said. "It certainly has accelerated the interest in commercial development along the US 27 strip."
The committee has approved a plan by Terre Haute, Ind.-based developer Thompson Thrift to develop a 1.5-acre site on US 27 near campus, and a groundbreaking could happen by October.
"Anytime you can sit virtually across the street from a large institution like Northern Kentucky University, which is only expected to grow over the next 10 years, that's a huge plus for the site, having a built-in customer base just 300 or 400 yards away," said Chris Hake, director of retail development for Thompson Thrift. "A lot of the retailers we work with want to be close to universities because of the steady traffic and the nighttime business as well."
City officials have been trying to get the site developed for years.
"Since the move to D-1 was announced, this all just took wings and took off. It sat there for years," said Highland Heights Mayor Greg Meyers. "I tell people, you don't see it yet, but you will -- you'll see the effects, and you'll see people and businesses locating as close to the university as they can get."