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Annual impact of Razorback sports hits $153.6 million

In case you were wondering, 5,774 hotel rooms in Northwest Arkansas were occupied by football game attendees during 2012, and 176,957 meals were purchased in area restaurants by those attendees.

Such numbers are from a study conducted by the University of Arkansas that paints a very positive picture of the economic impact of the university’s athletic program. The study did not mention how many of those 2012 football-related meals were swallowed with a bitter pill of disappointment.

The study, conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, estimates the annual economic impact of Razorback athletics to be $153.6 million. The program also is estimated to generate an additional $239.7 million impact from planned construction activity.

Conducted during the 2011-12 academic year, the study analyzed three areas categories of Razorback Athletics – athletic department operations, visitor spending related to on-campus sporting events, and construction spending. The operations and visitor spending provide an annual economic impact while construction expenditures results in one-time economic impact, noted the study.

“Our study illustrates the tremendous annual economic value of Razorback Athletics to the entire state,” Kathy Deck, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in the Walton College, said in a statement. “The impact of a thriving nationally competitive intercollegiate athletics program that draws more than one million fans annually is vital to the economic stability of Arkansas. The region relies on the economic benefits created by fans that pack hotels, dine in restaurants and support local businesses. Razorback football in particular has been a driving force in bringing new hotels and other businesses to our area. They simply wouldn’t be here if they couldn’t count on the influx of visitors during the fall, year in and year out.”

Deck also said the new construction and renovation “adds significant value to the overall economic outlook for Fayetteville and surrounding communities."

Jeff Long, UA vice chancellor and director of athletics, said the program has a positive impact on the entire state.

“As one of the very few financially self-supporting athletics programs in the nation, we provide support for our academic mission as well as serving as an economic driver for the state of Arkansas. Our continued investment will not only lead to the competitive and academic success of our student-athletes, but also increased economic growth for the state and the citizens of Arkansas,” Long explained.

Following are some of the details included in the 74-page report.
• During 2010-11, Razorback Athletics made expenditures of $84.7 million leading to an estimated economic impact of $124.1 million for the statewide economy. During that span, the department employed more than 260 people on a full-time basis and 982 people on a part-time or hourly basis.

• Based on increased spending to support the program in 2011-12, Razorback Athletics generated an increased impact to the state and region, with an estimated economic impact of $129.7 million.

• In the 2011-12 academic year, more than one million fans attended sporting events on the University of Arkansas campus resulting in 35,805 hotel or motel room nights and the purchase of over one million meals.

• Visitors to Razorback events generated new economic activity of nearly $30 million in Northwest Arkansas alone, netting a combined $2.66 million in state and local sales taxes directly benefitting the residents of Northwest Arkansas.

• During 2012, 66.8% of attendees at football games in Fayetteville were visitors from outside Northwest Arkansas. On average, each visitor spent $101.87 to benefit the local economy and generated an estimated $292,026 in state sales tax and $147,013 in local sales taxes.

• A total of 5,774 hotel rooms in Northwest Arkansas were occupied by football game attendees and 176,957 meals were consumed by visitors in area restaurants. In all, visitors to the area spent $4,900,437 in Northwest Arkansas during their stay.

• From 2002-11, the athletic department generated a total of 3,342 jobs related to construction projects creating a direct economic impact of $288.7 million during that span. In 2012 alone, the new football center project provided 561 jobs and made an estimated impact of $64.5 million.

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• Based on projections of the next five years of athletic facility construction activity, worth $150 million in 2012, will lead to 2,016 jobs and estimated long-term economic value of $239.7 million.

Link here for the PDF copy of the 74-page report.

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