Local hotels hit capacity ahead of College GameDay

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 12:01 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2023 at 3:35 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - ESPN’s College GameDay is coming to Harrisonburg on Saturday, November 13, and local hotels are preparing for an influx of people to arrive.

Hotel Madison is the only hotel on the James Madison University campus, and it’s been at full capacity every weekend since the beginning of the university’s football season. The weekend of College Game Day is no exception.

“Having a hotel room in the city of Harrisonburg this weekend is a hot ticket,” said Martha Fraser, director of sales and marketing, “People will want to be here, even if they don’t have game tickets. They just want to be here for the excitement and the energy. JMU has had an undefeated season so far this year; how often does that ever happen?”

Due to the hotel’s popularity, guests at Hotel Madison are limited to a two-day stay during the weekends of JMU home games. Fraser said they’ve had to deny rooms to hundreds of people, including ESPN broadcasters and the Jonas Brothers, who will perform at the game.

“The people we couldn’t accommodate; there’s been hundreds, hundreds and hundreds,” said Fraser, “If we had a 500-room hotel, we would’ve been able to sell it out.”

Even with no rooms available, Fraser expects to see the hotel’s bar and restaurants packed, especially since the Friendly City now has national media attention.

“People didn’t know where James Madison University was,” she said, “They quickly find out it’s in Harrisonburg, Virginia, so it definitely helps elevate the entire city.”

JMU’s home football games have helped local businesses like Hotel Madison flourish, and Fraser hopes the upcoming game will help people appreciate the friendly city.

“The shorter-term win is just the immediate demand for these football weekends,” she said, “but really, the bigger win is when people come and visit and they find out what a beautiful area this is, and how business friendly it is. I don’t think you can buy that publicity.”