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IMPLAN Blog

The Super Bowl and Beyond: Four Important Considerations for Analyzing the Economic Impacts of Major Events

January 30, 2024 by Chandler West

This year, fans of the San Francisco 49ers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the NFL at large will pour into Las Vegas, Nevada for Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium. While in Las Vegas, they will stay in hotels, feast on beer and wings at local bars and restaurants, and shop for souvenirs to take home to their families. Some will pass time on the Las Vegas Strip before the game while others will visit grocery stores to stock up on tailgating essentials. 

In short, football fans will spend money in Las Vegas this February. A lot of it. Grocery stores, hotels, and other businesses have been stocking up and making changes to their staffing in preparation, so the economic changes are already in motion. All this spending will have a significant ripple effect through the local and regional economies.

Historically, large events have been an enormous boon to their host cities. In 2011, the World Series brought St. Louis unexpected sales tax revenues, allowing the city to cancel expected furloughs for its employees

The benefits of hosting large events reach far beyond the world of sports, too. Twice a year, New York draws in thousands of visitors for Fashion Week. Hosting music festivals, film festivals, and large conventions for politics, business, and special interest can also draw vast numbers of visitors with money to spend.

IMPLAN makes it possible to quantify the impacts of changes within an economy – including the impacts of hosting large events like these. IMPLAN Cloud has been used in hundreds of cases to quantify the impact of major events. Read on to discover four important tips for conducting an accurate and meaningful study of a major event.

1. Focus on employee compensation rather than employment.

Football fans are spending big money in Las Vegas while they’re in town for the Super Bowl, but when the Vince Lombardi trophy has gone home with the winning team, they’ll be going home too. For this reason, it is more useful to look at the income brought in by a large event than the employment.

While some businesses will temporarily increase the size of their staff to accommodate the surge in business, other businesses may be able to increase the hours worked by their existing staff members, such that their employee headcount doesn’t actually increase even as their wage and salary payments do increase. In such cases, employee compensation values are more reliable than employment values.

Impacts on employment are not permanent unless the event in question is recurring. A study of New York Fashion Week, which occurs twice a year, might find that jobs are created by the event. A study of a one-off event like the Super Bowl is more likely to find that jobs are being supported rather than created. Keep in mind also the distinction between temporary jobs and permanent jobs.

2. Differentiate locals vs. visitors.

This February, we can be confident that Las Vegas locals will be joining in on Super Bowl festivities. While they won’t need to book hotels or airfare, their dollars will make a difference at concession stands. 

While locals will surely partake in the festivities, the spending by locals is typically excluded from tourism/recreation impact studies since local residents may have spent a similar amount of money on other local activities if the event in question had not occurred - i.e. their spending is not “new” to the region. While the case may sometimes be made that the locals spent more than they otherwise would have, that can be harder to tease out with a survey. 

3. Don’t overlook the work of volunteers.

For a few aspects of a big event, some of the work may be done by volunteers. You won’t want to assume that just because the work is happening, someone is getting paid. For example, during the Olympics, volunteers play a large role in running concession stands. Meanwhile, art events often have students volunteering as ushers. Neglecting to consider that some of the work was done for free can artificially inflate your numbers, so make sure you understand if and to what extent volunteers are helping out.

4. Be thorough when choosing which Industries to consider.

Hosting a big event like the Super Bowl touches nearly every aspect of a community. For this reason, thoroughness is key!

Hotels, motels, casinos. AirBnb and Vrbo. Restaurants, bars, and grocery stores. Air transportation, buses, trains, cars, and gasoline. Car rentals. Other ground transportation. Recreation. Personal retail. 

This list may just be the tip of the iceberg, so don’t forget to also include any industries that are more specific to the particular event you’re studying.

The Takeaway

Hosting an event like the Super Bowl is a big deal. When you want to analyze the impact of such a large event, there’s a lot to keep in mind to maximize the accuracy of your results. But with the right tools, it’s possible to create an insightful report that will demonstrate your success and empower future decision making.

More Resources

Want to read more about using IMPLAN Cloud to study the impacts of a big event? Check out these resources:

Learn more about the ins and outs of conducting an economic impact analysis with IMPLAN today. 

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Topics: Events, Economic Development

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Together, our software and data give you a window into your region of study — like one gigantic transaction log for the local economy. Chances are that if your project or business has a financial component, then IMPLAN can reveal some sometimes surprising detail about how your project relates to the local, state, or national economy.

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