Economic impact of college bowl games

TRAVIS WILLMANN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

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The weather has turned cold, the leaves have fallen off the trees and football fans are getting restless to see which bowl game their team plays in this year. Yes, it is almost winter, but football season is not over, and neither is the season of making money. For cities such as Birmingham, Ala., the tourist season may be almost over, but there will be one final wave of people before winter truly sets in.

Almost 72,000 people will make their way to Birmingham to watch their team march onto the field one last team before the season is over, according to Tatyana Denson, the event coordinator for the Birmingham bowl. Bowl games around the country have a major economic impact for the cities in which they are located and for the teams participating in the bowl.

Payouts for the schools participating in bowl games in the 2013-2014 season were between $32,000 and $22 million, according to Randy Grant, author of The Economics of Intercollegiate Sports. The money that the teams get from playing in the bowl, comes from the organization that owns the bowl game, according to SBnation.com. Bowls pay conferences, and conferences divvy that up among the schools. The payout received is in accordance with how big the bowl game is and how much interest the game brought.

However, no matter how big the bowl game and who is playing, the economic impact brought to the city in which the game is located is major. The city of Birmingham has seen an economic impact of more than $141 million from the Birmingham bowl since 2006, according to Denson.

Denson also said, “We also give money to Crippled Children’s Foundation, which has totaled $260,000 since 2006 and this money has gone to provide vital medical services to children in need.”

Last year’s Birmingham Bowl brought in by itself $8 million dollars, according to the Alabama News Center. The fans that came for the game not only stayed in hotels but also dined in restaurants and enjoyed other various forms of entertainment. Denson stated with a smile, “The hotels in Birmingham get a major boost to their business every year when the Birmingham bowl is played. Since the bowl is right at the end of tourist season, the hotels are usually not full, and it helps the hotel owners get through the winter.”

The impact of bowl games is not only local but also national. A report puts the economic impact of the nation’s 41 college football bowl games at $1.5 billion annually, according to a study done by San Diego State University. This number is only going to rise as new bowl games, such as the Myrtle Beach Bowl, continue to be created.

From the New Year’s six matchups, which are the largest of the bowl games, the economic impact is more than $93.7 million by themselves, according to San Diego State University.

According to that San Diego State study, it also suggests that most of the money is spent on food, beverages and lodging. This impacts the local economy in a major way.

The economic impact of college bowl games is undeniable, and it certainly helps cities like Birmingham get through cold winters where they do not have much tourism during those cold months. And as more bowls are added to the bowl series, it will undoubtedly have a greater impact on the areas that host bowl games. Even though the influence of the Myrtle Beach Bowl on the city of Myrtle Beach, SC, and Conway, SC is still unknown, the result will no doubt be a positive one.