Economic Impact of Sports Museums

Colorado Springs is proposing a City for Champions combination performance center, Olympic museum, visitor’s center for the Air Force Academy, along with outdoor and indoor sports facilities.

The projects, according to a story in The Gazette, are expected to cost $250 million and will create 5,100 jobs in the Pikes Peak region. The economic impact of the complex is estimated to be $6.5 billion over the next 30 years.

Project promoters, according to the story, believe an Olympic museum and downtown stadium will help foster the city’s burgeoning sports economy and attract other sports-related businesses.

So how much is a sports museum worth to a region? Let’s take a look at a handful to see if the initial cost may be worth it in the long term. The NASCAR Hall of Fame, a relative newcomer to the HOF scene, opened in May 2010. The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority estimated the hall’s direct economic impact to be $44 million a year.

Given that the Hall opened in the middle of the recession, estimates that the Hall could attract 800,000 visitors in the first year fell short to less than 300,000.  As the economy has stabilized, so has attendance, and with motorsports estimated impact of $5 billion to the area, there will always be an audience for all things racing.

In Oklahoma City, the Amateur Softball Association was founded in 1933 and the Hall of Fame was established in 1957, then moved to OKC in 1966. The Hall of Fame and Museum doesn’t charge an admissions fee, but donations are requested. Still, ASA generates over $15 million in economic impact to Oklahoma City, primarily in the dozens of events and tournaments it holds at its ASA Hall of Fame Complex, featuring four fields and other amenities.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, marked its 50th anniversary in 2013 with its Enshrinement Festival, including 19 events over two and a half weeks, was estimated to bring in nearly 700,000 visitors to the northeastern Ohio city with an economic impact of nearly $32 million for Canton and Stark County and $56 million for the state of Ohio.

Any physical Hall of Fame requires a significant investment by the regions it will serve. In Colorado Springs, a state commission awarded $120.5 million in sales tax rebates over the next 30 years to help finance the City for Champions projects. The rest of the financing is expected to come from local government entities and private donors.

Before City for Champions projects can proceed, supporters must find other sources of financing to complement state funds. And money awarded by the state comes with stipulations. Among them, the projects must be started within five years and completed within a decade.

Bottom line? Any Hall of Fame attraction depends on rabid fans of the sports to be successful, and a financial partnership to get the project off the ground. After that, creative programming and aggressive marketing, along with community partnerships, seem to be keys to the economic impact of such a sports attraction.

3 Car, NASCAR Hall of Fame

NASCAR Hall of Fame

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