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Mardi Gras To The Super Bowl: The Local Economic Impact Of America's Biggest Parties

Mardi Gras To The Super Bowl: The Local Economic Impact Of America's Biggest Parties

The annual Gasparilla festival, Tampa’s version of Mardi Gras, took place last weekend, with local businesses hoping the pirate-themed party would also be a boon for sales. However, major parties and special events like Gasparilla can sometimes have a mixed impact on the local economy.

Here’s a look at the financial impact some of the biggest American party events of the year have on their host cities.

Festivals And Celebrations

Roughly 300,000 people attend the Gasparilla parade in Tampa, bringing in an estimated $20 million to the local economy. More than 1 million people attend at least one Gasparilla event annually, with the entire festival accounting for about $40 million in spending.

Mardi Gras itself brings in about $840 million for the city of New Orleans annually. Over Mardi Gras weekend, the city’s more than 30,000 hotels have in excess of 90 percent capacity.

The San Diego Comic Con, the largest of its kind, brings in an estimated 130,000 attendees who pay for 63,000 hotel room nights. Attendees spend $19.8 million on the convention itself, and the estimated local economic impact is $140 million.

Special Sporting Events

The 2018 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl game had an estimated economic impact of $198.2 million for the host city of Pasadena in 2018. Of course, the tournament events cost the city about $2 million, the parade costs the city $11.9 million and hosting the bowl game costs about $6.4 million.

The annual Houston Rodeo draws more than 2.6 million visitors and has an economic impact of $425 million on the local economy. The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, an accredited charity that puts on the event, along with its suppliers and vendors reportedly pay over $27 million in local taxes per year as well.

About 170,000 fans attend the Kentucky Derby in Louisville every year. Nearly $200 million in wagers have been placed in recent years, and the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates that the event has total a local economic impact of around $400 million. The average local hotel upcharges by about 340 percent on Derby weekend.

At What Cost?

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events of the year for the host city, but the true payoff of hosting the Super Bowl is up for debate.

According to Consulting firm Rockport Analytics, last year’s Super Bowl host city Minneapolis got a net economic boost of $342 million from last year’s game. On the surface, that seems like a great deal. However, Minnesota taxpayers are on the hook for $498 million for the construction costs of host stadium U.S. Bank Stadium, which was built in 2016.

The Olympics is another example of an event that is a great public relations opportunity for the host city, but may not have the type of positive economic impact that the local economy is hoping for. The costs of bidding to host the Olympics and building and operating the massive amount of infrastructure needed for the games is staggering. The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro generated an estimated $400 million in tourism spending for the local economy. At the same time, Rio reportedly spent more than $12 billion on Olympic infrastructure to host the games.

Local businesses may see these big events as huge sales opportunities, which they certainly can be. However, if the cost of hosting these events takes too many dollars out of local taxpayers’ pockets, special events can end up hurting local businesses in the long-term.

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Photo credit: Craig Stanfill, Flickr


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