Big-time Sports Events Are Not Economic Generators

The claims of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits have yet to be proven.

It is the end of the college basketball season with the men’s tournament in New Orleans and the women’s tourney in Minneapolis taking place. And according to some economists like Ball State economics professor Michael Hicks, it is going to be a financial windfall for those cities once the people leave and the municipal accountants analyze the figures. Hicks told Front Office Sports that the men’s Final Four can be worth 100 to $150 million to New Orleans and Hicks estimated that the women’s Final Four can bring 75 to $125 million to Minneapolis. Of course, Hicks and other economists can never actually produce real numbers nor can politicians who really don’t want to know what the economic numbers truly are after paying the National Collegiate Athletic Association money to entice the group to come to their cities and use their big domed football stadiums for an event where the actual stars of the show, the players, are not getting paid directly by their colleges and universities. Some players are getting some licensing money selling their faces and names to marketing partners. At least the athletes get scholarships and are not saddled by enormous college debt.

Out of town big event customers probably stay four days in town and their spending is limited to hotels, restaurants and maybe renting a car. The spending on hotels and cars doesn’t necessarily stay in a community though. Some of that money goes back to a corporate headquarters elsewhere. The hotels and car rental agencies are not giving their employees extra big-time sports event money, it is the same job although some people like waiters and waitresses and parking attendants might get additional tips. The big events are vanity buys by local politicians and do little to pay off stadium or arena debt. The economics make no sense.

Evan can be reached at

Evan Weiner’s books are available at iTunes –