Sports Figures Are Prime Here

by RaeAnne Marsh

Major events bring millions of dollars to the Valley Sports is an attraction, no doubt about it. Blockbuster events attract impressive numbers; more importantly, they generate impressive numbers in a far-reaching impact that this issue’s cover story explores. The Valley is host to a great number of these marquee events for a variety of sports, both professional and amateur.

Golf aficionados and the socially connected alike flock from near and far to the calm, hushed greens of PGA Tour highlight, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The annual event impacts the local economy to the tune of millions; the total in 2012 was $222 million.

Another major event, the Super Bowl, draws thousands of visitors to the testosterone-laden gridiron contest and pumped more than $500 million into our economy when it was here in 2008. Equally high-octane is NASCAR, bringing more than $400 million annually with two Sprint Cup weekends at Phoenix International Raceway.

And recently, when budget cuts that the City of Phoenix was wrestling with caused it to consider shutting down the Reach 11 sports complex in North Phoenix, area merchants mounted a campaign to keep the facility open. The facility’s 11 soccer fields, the merchants argued successfully, regularly host tournaments for youth leagues, and the visitors they bring fill the local hotels and restaurants.

But beyond the direct spending by visitors (which, it is worth noting, is a transfusion of out-of-town money into the local economy) is a ripple effect as the purchases impact vendors in the supply chain, add business and employment opportunities, and put money in the wallets of the supporting labor force.

The 2012 Phoenix Open’s economic impact beyond the out-of-town money from visitors included staging costs that went to local businesses for tents, equipment, signage, parking and security, and more. The total for this was close to $50 million.

In similar fashion, our home professional sports teams spend for goods and services as a regular part of our economy — and the Valley is home to many professional sports teams. In addition to the big four (Arizona Cardinals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Coyotes and Phoenix Suns), our full slate includes the Arizona Rattlers, whose win last year of the Arena Bowl Championship marked the third championship for our National Conference team, and the Phoenix Mercury, our team in the Women’s National Basketball Association, which brought home WNBA championships in 2009 and 2007.

Marquee Event Financial Impact

BCS Bowl
Fiesta Bowl
Insight Bowl
Phoenix Open
Spring Training
Attendance  78,603 67,232 55,453 518,262 1,712,042
78% 42% 60% 29.8% 58%
Average Spending per
Visitor per Day
$349.10 $291.40 $313.20 $300.21 $300
Direct Spending by
Out-of-town Visitors
$100.6 m $28.2 m 47.0 m $89.7 m $230.4 m
Total Impact $188.0 m $47.6 m $84.6 m $222.0 m $422.3 m

Bowl and Phoenix Open: ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business    Spring Training: FMR Associates

Cactus League Employment Impact

Cactus Leagues
MLB Operations Stadium Events
Employment 527 715 870
Wages $21.1 m $26.7 m $32.5 m

Elliott D. Pollack & Company

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