VIDEO: The mysteries of predicting Final Four's impact

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A debate has been raging about whether Butler University’s well-earned spot in the 2010 Final Four will blunt the estimated $50 million in local economic impact for host city Indianapolis. In truth, predicting the event’s true economic impact is fraught with unknowns and rough calculations.

(Story continued below)

“It’s exactly inexact,” Bill Benner, director of communications for the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association, said of the $50 million estimate. “What we have consistently said is we hope that it will be in excess of $50 million, but we don’t know.”

NCAA studies of past Final Fours provide some basic parameters for visitor spending. For example, an analysis of the 2006 Final Four in Indianapolis found that the event attracted 44,392 visitors, and the average visitor stayed 4.1 days and spent $227.84 per day on lodging, food, sundries and other expenses.

But Butler’s barnstorming run to the semifinals adds uncertainty. Will the majority of Butler fans stay in hotel rooms and eat out for every meal, like other visitors?

Sports economist Patrick Rishe says the home-team deflation factor could cut economic impact by 5 percent to 15 percent. Rishe also raises the specters of “displacement”—subtracting how much the city would have benefitted from tourism on a normal weekend—and whether money spent in Indianapolis actually stays in Indianapolis. The effects can vary wildly, depending on the city.

In the video above, IBJ's Mason King looks at the 2006 Final Four study, projects how much visitors may spend on big-ticket items this year, and runs through the factors that make estimating economic impact such a guessing game.


  • Good Grief
    Indy is getting the Final Four on a regular basis and has a deal with the NCAA that most cities would give their "right arm" for.

    Quit whining about Butler being in the Final Four already.
  • Long term success
    The city itself may fall short of some revenue over the course of this 4-5 day period, but the benefits in the long run far outweigh any loss this weekend. So what if we are $5M down on revenue right now? Butler is making a name for itself which means an increase in applications, alumni donations, and eventually a further increase in tuition. The school can only get better from here.

    For the city/area, we will all benefit as Indianapolis will have at least two strong colleges in the city. Columbus has Ohio State, Minneapolis has U. of Minnesota, and Raleigh-Durham has both Duke and UNC. Indianapolis has strengthened its status by the improvements made at IUPUI, the announcement of the state's 2nd medical school at Marian, and now the already highly respected Butler University is proving that they can compete athletically with schools like Duke, Ohio State, IU, and Purdue and at the same time, outshine most/all of them academically. The city should be proud to have Butler win it all even if we lose a few million over the course of the weekend because we will reap endless benefits in the long run.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Gay marriage is coming, whether or not these bigots and zealots like it or not. We must work to ensure future generations remember the likes of Greg Zoeller like they do the racists of our past...in shame.

  2. Perhaps a diagram of all the network connections of all politicians to their supporters and those who are elite/wealthy and how they have voted on bills that may have benefited their supporters. The truth may hurt, but there are no non-disclosures in government.

  3. I'm sure these lawyers were having problems coming up with any non-religious reason to ban same-sex marriage. I've asked proponents of this ban the question many times and the only answers I have received were religious reasons. Quite often the reason had to do with marriage to a pet or marriage between a group even though those have nothing at all to do with this. I'm looking forward to less discrimination in our state soon!

  4. They never let go of the "make babies" argument. It fails instantaneously because a considerable percentage of heterosexual marriages don't produce any children either. Although if someone wants to pass a law that any couple, heterosexual or homosexual, cannot be legally married (and therefore not utilize all legal, financial, and tax benefits that come with it) until they have produced a biological child, that would be fun to see as a spectator. "All this is a reflection of biology," Fisher answered. "Men and women make babies, same-sex couples do not... we have to have a mechanism to regulate that, and marriage is that mechanism." The civil contract called marriage does NOTHING to regulate babymaking, whether purposefully or accidental. These conservatives really need to understand that sex education and access to birth control do far more to regulate babymaking in this country. Moreover, last I checked, same-sex couples can make babies in a variety of ways, and none of them are by accident. Same-sex couples often foster and adopt the children produced by the many accidental pregnancies from mixed-sex couples who have failed at self-regulating their babymaking capabilities.

  5. Every parent I know with kids from 6 -12 has 98.3 on its car radio all the time!! Even when my daughter isn't in the car I sometimes forget to change stations. Not everybody wants to pay for satellite radio. This will be a huge disappointment to my 9 year old. And to me - there's so many songs on the radio that I don't want her listening to.