The inaugural College Football Playoff concludes tonight as Oregon takes on Ohio State in Arlington, Texas, and local officials are hoping the spending habits of both fan bases are as prolific as each team’s offense. While economic impact estimates are always generous—that’s putting it kindly—there are some estimates claiming an impact of $308 million.
While I doubt it hits close to that number, the impact will be a net gain when it’s all said and done for Arlington and Dallas. Hotel rooms are booked and the game could be the highest viewed live event ever on ESPN. That kind of publicity can be worth its weight in gold for cities.
But what is the real number a city or area can expect to gain? Super Bowl XLV in Dallas in 2011 saw estimates as high as $611 million, a figure that, frankly, is absurd. But it surely did generate a net positive for the city and surrounding area, and so to will the College Football Playoff. That spike is more likely to be in the mid-to-high eight figures, however.
“The hotel rooms are going to be two or three times their normal rate. But you’re not going to increase the wages of your desk clerks or room cleaners by two or three times,” Professor Victor Matheson, at Holy Cross in Massachusetts, told KERA News in Dallas. “So all that money goes to corporate profits. And that all goes back to corporate headquarters in New York City. It doesn’t stay in the host city.”
But that doesn’t mean the city won’t feel that spending. When asked by Connect Sports how the city felt as game day neared, Matt Wilson, director of sports and national accounts for Experience Arlington, said there were great crowds everywhere and the fans were spending plenty of money in the area.
We won’t know for some time (if ever) what the real economic impact of the College Football Playoff Championship will have on Arlington and the surrounding area, but if it’s as big as ESPN wants it to be, Glendale, Arizona (site of next year’s game) and Tampa, Florida (site of 2017’s game) will be thrilled to have gotten in on the first cycle of games.