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University of Colorado football is raking it in with new coach Deion Sanders

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The most electrifying team in college football this season is the University of Colorado. The Buffaloes won just a single game last year. This year, they're already 3-0 and are the talk of the sporting world thanks to their flashy new coach, Deion Sanders, and a whole new roster of players. The team's success has also been a huge boost to local businesses, as Colorado Public Radio's Tony Gorman reports from Boulder.

TONY GORMAN, BYLINE: Colorado Coach Deion Sanders is making a believer out of everyone in the college football universe this season.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DEION SANDERS: What's up, ballers? You believe in that? You - hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Oh, no. Do you believe in that?

GORMAN: So much so, the CU home games are some of the hottest tickets around.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Yeah.

GORMAN: For the first time in 27 years, season tickets are sold out, and that means the resale market is soaring. The nosebleed sections are going for hundreds of dollars and front-row seats more than 15,000. Even students are having a hard time. CU freshman Eli Jason was one of the lucky ones. He won a student sports pass through a lottery.

ELI JASON: The best place in the country right now.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Inaudible).

JASON: Most hype in the world. No one knows what's happening right here besides what's happening in Boulder.

GORMAN: The Buffaloes game Saturday against in-state rival Colorado State, a thriller won by Colorado in double overtime, was more like a Hollywood affair. The nation's top recruits, former NFL players and celebrities all showed up. It's part of the Prime effect. Sanders, known as Coach Prime, continues to garner national media exposure every week.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go Buffs.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Go Buffs.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go Buffs.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Go Buffs.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Go Buffs.

GORMAN: The excitement and economic boom have always followed Sanders. When he coached Jackson State in Mississippi, the region saw a huge boost. The Tigers football team brought in $30 million to the city in 2021, almost double the season before the pandemic.

CHANDLER PARKER: Are you finding everything all right, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Yes.

PARKER: OK, perfect.

GORMAN: Boulder is already seeing it, too. Where the Buffalo Roam, a souvenir shop, saw a huge spike in sales when Sanders was hired. Store manager Chandler Parker says they're constantly restocking CU merchandise.

PARKER: Essentially since the first win of the season, our business has gone up at least, I would say, 50 to 60% on - especially, like, on game days.

CHRIS HEINRITZ: And this was featured on ESPN this morning.

GORMAN: Over on University Hill, a line pours out the door of The Sink. The restaurant has been around for a century. Co-owner Chris Heinritz says he hasn't been this busy since he purchased The Sink in 1992.

HEINRITZ: And we started seeing people come in on Thursday night this week even though it's a kind of a local game playing CSU. And, you know, we expect people to be around all the way into Monday.

GORMAN: Even Coach Prime is getting in on the action. He launched a line of custom-made sunglasses by Blenders last week that got a boost when Colorado State's coach criticized him. Sanders, who is known for wearing hats, hoodies and sunglasses to his press conferences, responded by giving his players their own sunglasses.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SANDERS: These are the shades. Let me give you these.

GORMAN: Sanders said Blenders made $1.2 million in sales in one day. Those shades came out just in time because Sanders wants his team to enjoy the spotlight. And as long as Coach Prime is at CU, Boulder will, too. For NPR News, I'm Tony Gorman in Boulder.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE WILL ROCK YOU")

QUEEN: (Singing) We will, we will rock you. We will, we will rock you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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