CLEARWATER BEACH (FOX 13) - Hundreds of out-of-towners took to Clearwater Beach Wednesday to get Outback Bowl celebrations started a little early.
University of Tennessee and Northwestern University fans packed the beach near Pier 60 for the annual Outback Bowl Beach Party. Visitors enjoyed food, games, and live music. Both teams' cheerleaders and marching bands also performed in the sand for droves of fans.
Organizers expect more than 35,000 visitors to come to the Bay area for the Outback Bowl.
"We know they're going to come in, they're going to go to restaurants and look for places to go. They're probably going to go see Winter the Dolphin, so there's probably going to be quite a bit of residual impact for the area and the destination," said Kevin Smith, who is on the Outback Bowl's Board of Directors.
Over the Outback Bowl's 30 years in Tampa, organizers say it's contributed $1 billion to the local economy.