LOS may score World Cup windfall

April 24, 2009
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worldcupIndianapolis is in the running to host Word Cup soccer games in 2018 and 2022. It’s a long, long way from a done deal, but two things are certain. First, Indianapolis wouldn’t be in the conversation if it wasn’t for Lucas Oil Stadium. Second, the economic impact of the World Cup is significant.

The 1994 World Cup hosted by the U.S. brought in a record 3.6 million fans from around the globe. The average per-game crowd was 69,000. The economic impact for the entire tournament is in the hundreds of millions. But there aren’t many studies on what each round would net the host city.

Indianapolis—if it is fortunate enough to be chosen—would most likely host a preliminary pool play round, said Indiana Sports Corp. spokesman John Dedman. Preliminary pool play involves four teams playing over a week-long period. “Since it’s played over a longer period, visitor spending at hotels and restaurants can be significant,” Dedman said.

Most sports economists seem to agree that even a preliminary round of the World Cup could carry an economic impact near an NCAA men’s Final Four. Studies show that direct visitor spending for a men’s Final Four is between $45 million and $50 million.

But the spending of the international crowd at the former Formula One race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway indicates the economic impact of World Cup play here could be significantly higher than a Final Four. Let’s face it, these types of globetrotters are often the upper crust of the wine and cheese crowd.

Of course, there are no guarantees. The 2002 World Basketball Championships hosted by Indianapolis were a financial flop, and cost the Indiana Sports Corp. plenty. But the global following of soccer is far more fervant than basketball, despite what NBA Commissioner David Stern says.

These are important numbers to remember when considering the money state and city lawmakers are trying to raise to operate Lucas Oil Stadium. Remember, the most current operation figure to run LOS annually is about $27 million. The economic impact from events like this is the payoff. I'm sure there's no one rooting more for the local bid to come through than the beleagured Capital Improvement Board. It would be a nice victory to run up the flag pole the next time they need more funding.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First, Lucas Oil Stadium has to make the cut when the U.S. bid committee narrows the list to 20 or 30 stadiums for its final bid next year. Then the U.S. has to win the bid among the 10 other countries making a bid for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. If the U.S. does win one of the two bids, then Lucas Oil Stadium has to be chosen as one of the 12 final sites.

Game on.
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  • But, but, but its the Colts Stadium, how dare someone try to have another event in there. I mean that could.....gasp....make it a multi use stadium. Sorry for the sarcasm. I just am tired of the people who make the above claims and somehow blames the CIB fiasco on the Colts. As they stated, the Colts never demanded or asked for a stadium, nor did they ever threaten to leave. Channel 6 replayed a 2002 interview with Irsay that backed that up.

    The CIB fiasco is almost completely Petersons fault. That said, events such as the World Cup, Olympic qualifiers and Olympic preliminary rounds are things that Indy can now do that we could not with the dome. The fact that we have international experience with F1, Indycar and MotoGP and internationally recognized high level hotels like the Conrad and the JW, will help. Add to that our experience with crowds ranging from 50,000 to 400,000, we should be a shoe in.
  • I'd say we're a long-shot to be one of the 12 sites for a World Cup in the U.S. given our proximity to Chicago. Still, this would be awesome for Indy if we could land it.

    Indyman, don't forget that the Pacers' lease was negotiated by Goldsmith. The CIB operating deficit is not unexpected. We've known about it for a couple of years now, yet Ballard's people have done nothing. There's shared blame here, including Peterson.
  • Stop giving revenues from these other events at LOS to the Colts and people will stop calling it the Colts stadium.
  • The Pacers lease is not really the issue. It has worked well for a decade. Why the Pacers cannot make money is more of a big market/small market issue.

    The CIB issue is pretty much beyond Ballards control. He did not agree to a bad deal with the Colts and he does not have the tools to fix it yet. His hands are tied until the State hands those tools to the City, be they tax increases or whatever.

    Even the issue with the CIB will partially correct itself in about 3 years. Once the CC expansion is up and running, the JW complex is fully open and the economy picks up, I would bet $10 to $20 million of the deficit would disappear. What is happening now is like opening an amusement park with only half of the rides operating. You will attract people, but you will not get your full revenue until all rides are operating.

    I like the idea of doing a short term fix, patch the arterial bleeding and then give the patient some time to see what the real damage is. When the economy picks up, see what alternatives are out there. The City is never good at doing things such as running sports or entertainment venues. The City should look at leasing the management rights out to private companies to see how they do with it.
  • Then pay the Colts back the $100 million they paid on the stadium and I am sure they will forgo their share of profits. They invested a huge chunk and should expect a return on their investment.

    The profit sharing is not a bad idea. The percentages are off, but that is part of Bart giving away the store. The Colts have shown what their marketing department can do with the naming rights. I am sure the City could not have gotten even close to what the Colts did. If we had partnered with them and kept 20% or 30% of the rights, we would not have quite the issue we have with the CIB. We are going to end up with more events at LOS because the Colts want to up their profit. A rising tide raises all ships.

    I still question what the term all revenue from football means. Only Colts games? Then it is not a horrible deal. All football including high school and college? Not a good deal. Only NFL? I mean no one has ever defined what ALL football revenue means. Maybe Anthony can define that for us.
  • The Colts didn't threaten to leave town, because we built LOS before they got around to it.
  • Joyce, that's a lot of assuming on your part. In actuality, they didn't even have to.
  • If we add World Cup to the Super Bowl, Final Fours (Mens/Womens), Concerts, Colts, Conventions, that would be incredible.

    I urge people to see beyond the Tax impact and see what millions of visitors do for the overall local Economy and Indy's Image as a Sports Tourist Town.
  • CIB/Colts/Revenue discussion aside, I would LOVE to see soccer make a mark in Indianapolis. Being able to see the World Cup in Indianapolis would be a bigger event to me personally than any other we could hope to host. If you think NFL or NCAA fans are passionate about their games, they don't have anything on a soccer crowd.
  • It fascinates me that soccer has not caught on in the US. I mean up through high school kids seem really into it. but then sometime between College and adulthood, they seem to lose interest.
  • Indyman, I agree completely. The World Cup for some reason makes the US care if just for a few weeks. Everyone I know who is even remotely a sports fan cares when the World Cup roles around. Give us another shot at hosting it and I think Soccer would begin to take off a little more.

    I also think Indy would be a very viable MLS expansion city. I don't think we could handle another Major Sport Franchise (MLB or NHL), but might be able to attract an MLS team. We have a very solid Soccer foundation of youth & HS Soccer plus IU Soccer is one of the most successful NCAA Soccer Programs in the nation. A massive remodel of the IUPUI Track/Soccer Field into a Modern Facility would be a perfect fit for Indy, IUPUI, and an MLS Team.

    This would be huge to land a World Cup site. That is essentially the World's Super Bowl and the US is a very attractive destination for the World Cup. The US will get it, just a matter of which one.
  • CC, I don't disagree with you. One problem. IUPUI's master plan right now includes demolishing the track and field stadium to make room for a mixed use housing development.
  • If Indianapolis wanna be worthy for the name of the Sports Capital then we need to have the World Cup in here! I can't imagine a sports capital without the world cup!

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