The outgoing president of Ball State University, Dr. Jo Ann Gora, once said that the only ones who make money from a bowl game is the host city. An economic impact study from last January’s Orange Bowl and BCS Championship games shows, that’s not too far from the truth, at least for the on-their-way-out BCS bowls.
According to a study by the Conventions Sports & Leisure International group shows that the 2012-2013 Orange Bowl Festival, which included the annual Orange Bowl game as well as the BCS Championship game, helped generate a $298.1 million economic impact for South Florida.
Perhaps more significant is that number is nearly 50 percent more than the economic impact generated the last time South Florida was the host for both the Orange Bowl and the BCS National Championship games, in 2008-09. It’s also close to the $333 million economic impact of the 2010 Super Bowl played at Sun Life Stadium, according to the South Florida Super Bowl Committee.
The study cited an improved economy as one reason for the jump in spending; another was the increased interest in the two teams involved in the BCS title game in 2013, Alabama and Notre Dame.
The study breaks down the economic impact with Orange Bowl events generating $127 million in new direct spending, $224 million in total new economic output, $4.9 million in new taxes and creating approximately 2,400 new full and part-time jobs that generated $81.4 million in personal earnings. The total economic impact figure includes $74.1 million in media exposure value for South Florida.
That’s what one of the BCS bowls can mean to a community, but what about some of the lower tiered post-season college games? They can impact a city’s bottom line, as well. For example, the Las Vegas Bowl, played just before Christmas at UNLV’s stadium, brings in around 37,000 fans who generate some $18 million in non-gaming economic impact during one of the quietest tourist weeks of the year on The Strip.
And look at the finances surrounding the Heart of Dallas bowl January 1 at the Cotton Bowl pitting UNLV against North Texas. UNLV expects to receive $600,000 from its conference for participating in the game but is responsible for selling $400,000 in tickets (5,333 tickets at $75 apiece). That leaves $200,000 for the expense of sending the team and university officials to Dallas for the game. But it’s been 13 years since UNLV has been in a bowl game, and despite the financial challenges, UNLV Athletic Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said she never considered turning down the bid.
“It’s a national network and we’re going to be the first game out,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “It’s going to be a three-hour advertisement for the university, and that’s priceless.”
For the Dallas area, the bowl game has its own payday. This bowl game, run as a not-for-profit, brings in just under $20 million in economic impact, according to the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. The traditional Cotton Bowl Classic, before it moved to Arlington, Texas, was $29.8 million.
Add in the national exposure that the host cities receive during a bowl game, and it’s easy to see how games from the Belk Bowl to Music City Bowl to the Pinstripe Bowl continue to pop up and thrive: Schools love the exposure, and the host cities love the visitors during traditionally slow tourism times. And that’s a big win for both sides.
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