SM PIER — Expect to see a flood of college football fans dressed in red and white if you’re in Downtown Santa Monica on Dec. 30 — the date when the Big Ten co-champion Wisconsin Badgers will hold a pep rally at the Santa Monica Pier ahead of their Rose Bowl appearance opposite Texas Christian University on New Year’s Day.
It’s an event that’s expected to draw 25,000 fans, according to the Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau, and give local bars, restaurants and shops a welcome boost.
“Local businesses are energized by the spirit visiting fans and team supporters will bring,” said Misti Kerns, the CVB’s president and CEO.
Deals and special discounts aimed at Badger fans are being consolidated on the CVB’s website, www.santamonica.com.
It’s not just drink specials and meal markdowns, said Kim Baker, the non-profit organization’s director of marketing. There’s also offerings from the Big Blue Bus, Pacific Park and Starline Tours, as well as coupons from a local bike shop and jeweler.
“Businesses can be impacted as much as they’d like to be, if they’re willing to do something fun,” she said.
Kevin Kluender, the University of Wisconsin’s assistant athletic director, said Santa Monica was a perfect place for Badger fans to come together.
“The opportunity to host our event in Santa Monica, with its scenic ocean views and beautiful beaches as a backdrop, is one of the many highlights of the Rose Bowl experience for our team and our fans,” he said.
Last year, the CVB welcomed both Rose Bowl participants, Ohio State and the University of Oregon, to town for pier-side rallies.
“We definitely saw the impact to local business,” Baker said, with attractions on the pier, shops on the Third Street Promenade and especially hotels reaping the benefits.
She said locals are expecting Wisconsin fans to turnout in similarly large numbers.
“They’re a school that will travel for something like this,” Baker said. “They’re really excited.”
The rally, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. next to the Santa Monica Pier on Dec. 30.