IBJ Podcast: What’s the ultimate value for Indy of hosting the college football championship?

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The population of Indianapolis swelled by about 100,000 headed into Monday night’s College Football Playoff National Championship game. Fans from Georgia and Alabama filled hotel rooms, injected adrenalin into the local restaurant scene, rented cars, shelled out for keepsakes and, hopefully, told their friends back home how much they’re enjoying the city despite absolutely dreadful weather.

City tourism officials say their best estimate of the economic impact from hosting the championship is about $150 million. But how can they possibly produce an accurate prediction in such a complicated economic environment? Wasn’t the economic impact prediction for March Madness last year off by $50 million? In the first half of this week’s edition of the IBJ Podcast, Visit Indy’s Chris Gahl explains how precisely the estimates are calculated—when good data is available—and why the CFP figure should be more accurate.

Decades into Indianapolis’ sports tourism strategy, we essentially take it as an article of faith that hosting huge sporting events is worth all of the trouble and expense. But why? Beyond the dollars visitors drop in Indianapolis, what is the ultimate value of repeatedly playing host? In the second half of the podcast, Mark Rosentraub, a sports business expert at the University of Michigan, explains the less quantifiable benefits and why Indianapolis might always have to prove it’s worthy.

Click here to find the IBJ Podcast each Monday. You can also subscribe at iTunesGoogle PlayTune In, Spotify and anyplace you find podcasts. Here are some of our recent episodes:

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Looking for another podcast to try? Check out IBJ’s The Freedom Forum with Angela B. Freeman, a monthly discussion about diversity and inclusion in central Indiana’s business community.

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One thought on “IBJ Podcast: What’s the ultimate value for Indy of hosting the college football championship?

  1. What’s missing is the amount of dollars the City makes on these events. The $160M impact number doesn’t reflect City revenues. And, contrary to Gahl’s comments, most of the tax revenue resulting from visitors downtown (inside the PSDA) for such events is diverted to pay for the facilities – BLF and LOS. The City/Legislature just expanded that area to pay for BLF upgrades. Expect the Colts to argue for upgrades to LOS in the near future (aside from the $21M technology improvements already announced). Need an open discussion about the benefits of further expansion.

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