MONEYBALL: How Utah Jazz and Other Sports Events Benefit the State of Sports Economy

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – In case you didn’t know, the world of professional sports is about a lot of money.

Lots and lots of money.

Top athletes don’t just have a high income – for example, Utah jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are said to bring home nearly $ 63 million in salaries this season alone – the dough that makes an NBA game so glamorous , can seep into the area around the arena and beyond.

The bigger the stage, the greater the economic impact on the city and the area where the team or event is located.

Milwaukee’s Bucks run for the championship made big bucks, with the city’s tourism department reporting $ 57.6 million in profit for the local economy thanks to the NBA Finals.

In Utah, too, home jazz games are a boon to the economy. According to Jeff Robbins, President and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission, a study conducted several years ago estimated that each NBA game in Salt Lake City grossed around $ 1 million.

“If you look at vendors, restaurants and hotels, you look at a kind of convergence of the city with the Vivint Arena, there is obviously significant economic activity in this area,” Robbins tells

While in a sporting event it seems like a natural consequence to put the revenue in the hands of business owners in the arena, other city or state impacts aren’t as tangible as a $ 120 Jordan Clarkson jersey from the team store or a pre-game meal at the neighboring Crown Burger.

Showing the state of Utah on any screen – television, computer, or mobile device – can also be incredibly valuable.

To that end, Robbins and the Sports Commission see this coming May as a great opportunity to put southern Utah on the radar on a large scale by hosting the 2022 Ironman World Championship in St. George.

Securing the event, which is held outside of Kona, Hawaii for the first time in the entire 40-year history of the race, was a huge win for Beehive State.

“In 2019, it had an economic impact of about $ 40 million and about 5 billion impressions, the equivalent of about $ 40 million in media worth to advertise Kona,” said Robbins.

With the Ironman World Championship canceled in 2020 and 2021, the Sports Commission expects the pent-up demand for their return to St. George to add even higher media value and make the 2022 event an even bigger poster for Utah.

The Utah sports scene has evolved a lot since hosting the 2002 Winter Olympics, Robbins explains. Headlining moments like Street League Skateboarding last month, plus an NHL exhibition game on Thursday and the Red Bull Rampage in October, hint at one thing: Utah lives up to the Commission’s reputation as a State of Sport.

Growth could continue well into the future as work is currently underway to secure another Olympic bid sometime in the next decade.

Easily available ways for sports fans to spend their money and have fun on the night of the big game could also get even better much sooner than a possible Olympics in the 2030s. While Milwaukee’s economic boost can, to some extent, be attributed to the Deer District, a shopping and dining district in close proximity to the Fiserv Forum where the Bucks play, the Jazz have not had such a fan experience near their home courtyard.

25,000 Bucks fans jammed the Deer District outside the arena to watch Game 6 of the NBA Finals on video screens. (Photo by Robert CHIARITO / AFP) (Photo by ROBERT CHIARITO / AFP via Getty Images)

Robbins is seeing signs of improvement, however, and is already recognizing that potential in downtown Salt Lake City.

“I think you can see quite a lot of economic activity down there,” he says, citing the construction of several new hotels and buildings on the southeast corner of the arena and the renovation of the building itself in 2017. As far as happens across the street, hopefully the economy will move on as the economy gets better and hopefully things improve. “

Above all, sport and especially jazz have made Utah a worldwide name as an invaluable brand and advertising ship. One of Robbin’s favorite stories is that of Zions Bank CEO and President Scott Anderson, who was recently on a trip to a remote part of Africa when a local excitedly recognized the basketball note logo on his son’s jazz hat.

It helps that the team is led by a number of world-renowned stars like Mitchell; Gobert, who is from France; Ingles, an Australian; Clarkson, a Filipino-American; and other international talent.

“When you look at the reach that jazz has nationally and globally, I think it really helps that we have become an international team,” says Robbins. “When you look at the expansion of the NBA to the international world, it matters. They are in Asia, they are in Europe, the players come from everywhere and that wasn’t long ago when that wasn’t necessarily the case. “

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