Since its inception in 1990, the Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx has been recognized as one of the country’s top HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) football classics. When the Southern Heritage Classic celebrates its 26th anniversary on September 12th in Memphis, TN at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Tennessee State University and Jackson State University will continue their traditional rivalry. “It’s All About Having FUN!” is the theme of the 2015 Classic, and more than 50,000 fans are expected to attend.
The Classic, which last year ranked 4th in attendance among historically black college and university classic football games in the country, has become a driving force for increasing revenue for Tennessee State and Jackson State. After the 2015 Classic, both colleges – collectively – will have earned more than $10 million since the Classic’s inception in 1990.
The Classic also has an economic impact on Memphis where these competing teams play annually. It generates $21 million for the local Memphis economy.
“The Classic has become much more than a platform where two of our historically black colleges and universities come together in Memphis,” said Fred Jones Jr., Southern Heritage Classic founder and producer. “For the two colleges, it’s created an annual economic stream that they could depend on. For Memphis, it’s been an economic powerhouse to the community.”
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. said the Classic also has impacted communities beyond the boundaries of Memphis.
“In bringing together universities from Nashville, Tennessee and Jackson, Mississippi in Memphis, the Southern Heritage Classic has for many years been one of the most anticipated and widely regarded events on the Mid-South region’s social calendar,” Wharton said. “What escapes many people, however, is that this game and calendar of events have also become a strong, dependable economic engine for Memphis and the Mid-South.”
Wharton continued, “What Fred Jones has accomplished in building this Classic from a small football game between regional rivals into a week of activities that generates a $21 million economic impact is remarkable. This is why he deserves appreciation not only from Tennessee State and Jackson State Universities and their fans, but also from the small business owners, Chamber of Commerce officers, hotel general managers, governmental officials, and all of those who have benefited from the financial footprint the Southern Heritage Classic continues to make. To be clear, every Memphian has benefitted from the positive imprint of the Classic,” Mayor Wharton said.
Besides FedEx – the Classic’s presenting sponsor – other major sponsors include Allstate Insurance Company, AutoZone, Nike, Governor’s Highway Safety Office, Carrier Corporation, and MillerCoors.
Beyond the football game, thousands of visitors each year attend the Classic Business Conference, Coaches Luncheon, Parade, Concerts and other local events.
Twenty five years later, the Southern Heritage Classic mission has stayed the course to provide an annual cultural celebration as the premier sports and entertainment event in Memphis, creating a strong economic impact and promoting higher education.
The 2015 Southern Heritage Classic will be broadcast on FOX SportSouth.