When Drew Mitchell (ND ’01) returned to South Bend in 2006 for business school, he had a large number of friends begging to stay with him during Notre Dame Football games because all the hotel rooms in South Bend booked up a year in advance. In talking to many other alumni who attended ND football games with their families each year, the lack of lodging options in South Bend was a common problem. A big group of eight would need to get four hotel rooms and then didn’t really have a good place to all hang out together during the weekend.
“We would come back to games with a group of eight friends or so, and have to split up into four hotel rooms over five miles away from campus,” partner Jordan Curnes states. “It just didn’t make sense, especially with all the nice homes that are within walking distance of campus.
Drew saw a few online rentals on craigslist and Ebay, but thought there could be a much better solution for Notre Dame Football games. Rent Like A Champion was born. With fellow 2001 ND graduates Derrick Shenk and Jordan Curnes, Drew set about to build a the website www.RentLikeAChampion.com, which was designed to allow local South Bend homeowners to easily list their home for rent for all Notre Dame football game weekends, as well as graduation and reunion weekends.
Initially Rent Like A Champion featured homes owned by Drew and his partners, but the website now lists over 80 homes owned by others (including Notre Dame professors, staff, and even the former home of Knute Rockne) for every football weekend and graduation. This year, the USC night game has been particularly popular for home rentals with over 55 homes already booked as of August 1 for the first night game in over 20 years at Notre Dame Stadium.
Currently, the www.RentLikeAChampion.com website attracts several thousand unique visitors each month, including many ND alums, and serves to connect Notre Dame fans with South Bend homes. Customers comment that renting a home provides a better football weekend experience for their group. More friends and family are able to spend time together in a larger home, often close enough to walk to campus. The other big benefit is cost savings. A hotel room may cost as much as $400 per night, with a 3-night minimum, resulting in a $1200 minimum lodging expense for just two people – an average of $600 per person!. Some of Rent Like A Champion’s homes can sleep between 10 to 16 people, resulting in average per person costs typically ranging from $100 to $150. Groups often cook meals together, which is convenient due to long waits at local restaurants and higher costs even for simple meals like breakfast.
In addition to improving game day lodging options around Notre Dame, Rent Like a Champion also buys and renovates homes for ND student rentals in an effort to improve the neighborhood directly South of camps. The goal is to provide a higher quality landlord experience for the Notre Dame students and so far, the feedback has been very positive. Both students and their parents appreciate having Notre Dame alumni as landlords due to the reliability of the Notre Dame Family. Rent Like A Champion tries to support all aspects of the ND community. The company recently partnered with 2009 ND graduate Mike Lee to promote the first ever professional boxing event in Notre Dame’s History, titled “Fight Like a Champion”. The event will be held on the eve of the MSU game, September 16th, at 9PM at the Joyce Center – Purcell Pavillion. Most importantly, Mike Lee has promised to donate all of the proceeds of his boxing match to Notre Dame charities, with the money being split between the Robinson Community Learning Center and the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. Tickets for the event are on sale through the Notre Dame ticket office and can be purchased here.
If you want to learn more about Rent Like A Champion, you can find them online at www.RentLikeAChampion.com, their Facebook page, or call them at 1-877-4HORSEMEN.
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