By Caitlin Schudalla
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The season’s first OU home football game can’t get here fast enough for the Sooner faithful, but Campus Corner businesses are making early preparations for the spike in business.
Anticipating thousands of patrons requires substantial preparation for campus corner business owners, managers and staff — so five weeks ahead is time for gearing up.
“We have all new merchandise coming in now, particularly the popular coach’s sideline polo,” Balfour owner Jerry Hatter said. “We’re also stocking up on ‘there’s only one’ tees for fans to wear to designated games.”
Some new merchandise of note will be novelty items like puzzles of the Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Sooner-themed pewter serving trays and chili cookers.
“We place sale merchandise outside, in front of the store under a tent. Gamedays are just plain busy,” Hatter said.
Restaurants also are focusing on preparing for the surge in business, ensuring they are fully staffed for the first game Aug. 31.
“The real preparation doesn’t start until about two or three weeks prior to the first home game, but ordering extra supplies will begin soon,” Louie’s manager Megan Richardson said.
Louie’s is planning a 10th anniversary party on Aug. 17 for its Campus Corner location, just two weeks before the first home game on Aug. 30.
“Hiring at Louie’s is contingent upon gameday availability — absolutely everyone works on gameday, some from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. the next morning,” Richardson said. “Leading up to the game, we order extra food and roll lots of extra silverware.”
Visitors to Campus Corner — on gameday and beforehand — also will notice new parking meters in every individual street parking spot around the area.
“The new meters will resemble the older ones, but they take debit/credit cards, tokens and you can even use your phone,” city of Norman Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said. “The difference is when we go live in the beginning of August, it’ll be $1 per hour, a limit of three hours per spot, and 24 hours a day.”
O’Leary said the city anticipates some “sticker shock” from Campus Corner regulars, as the hourly rate for parking will quadruple with the implementation of the new meters, but he said this new rate will help keep more spots open to customers by discouraging Campus Corner employees from using the metered spots.
Whether it’s stocking up on merchandise or manpower, Campus Corner businesses will be prepared to welcome Sooner fans for another season.