Fans of the Fightin’ Irish at Notre Dame may soon have a new place to rest their heads at the end of the long football-filled Saturdays in autumn.
A developer plans to build hotel-condos in downtown South Bend, Ind., and is targeting the near-fanatical Notre Dame football fans as potential condo buyers. Gary Spillers, chief executive of Gameday Centers Southeastern LLC, markets to fans of college football, basketball and baseball — especially season-ticket holders — and graduates by building condo-hotels near college campuses. He has finished four developments and has five more planned.
The sports-themed hotel-condos are part of a wider trend, with hotel-condo developments spreading into small and mid-size cities across the country, a departure from the expected locations such as New York, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas and San Francisco.
In some cases, the developments are changing the faces of downtowns and altering the way people vacation. In this case, builders are capitalizing on the nostalgia of college alumni and sports fans.
“I found out they want to come back and they want to invest in their college town, but they don’t want the hassles that come with it,” Spillers said. “We basically created a hassle-free option that produces income when they’re not using it.”
The Gameday units are operated like traditional hotel-condos, with owners buying a unit and, when they’re not using it, letting hotel management rent it out. The owner and hotel share revenue.
Dante Alexander, the president of the condo hotel owner association, said hotel-condos will increasingly be built around groups of people with common interests, such as sports fans, college students, alumni and business travelers.
Gameday Centers has finished four such plans near football schools such as the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Auburn University in Alabama, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and the University of Georgia at Athens. Spillers said the developments sold quickly, with nearly all units sold when the buildings opened.
Five more are planned, including the one near Notre Dame, and others near Texas A&M, Texas Tech and the University of Texas. Within a month, the developer will finish another near the University of Florida near Tallahassee.
“We found the market is deeper than we originally anticipated,” Spillers said. “We’ve gone to bigger buildings now.” Spillers said the planned developments will each have between 125 to 150 condo units.
Alexander said developers will soon target other communities of people.
“Why put your son or daughter into a dorm when you can buy a condo unit,” he said. “Eventually there will be sporting condo-hotels and hunting and fishing ones. Football is already there, so the next thing will be other sports, convention centers. It will progress to all economic segments and the condo-hotel will spread into other lifestyles.”