From Super Bowl To Rock Concerts: The Real Winners Of Big Events (2024)

Fans who attend major sporting events and concerts may have memories to last a lifetime. The owners of the sports teams and producers of major music events may smile as they look at a sold-out crowd. The athletes and musicians are well-paid for their performances. And we can’t forget the sponsors who pay large sums of money to be affiliated with events, enjoy brand recognition and see a return on their advertising dollars. But there’s one other “happy customer” that many people don’t think about: the city that gets the honor of hosting these events.

The Super Bowl was just two months ago, and for many, it is now a distant memory. For the city that hosts the biggest sporting event of the year, it’s a windfall in economic benefit. This year, that city was Las Vegas. Even before the Super Bowl was hosted in its new stadium, the city profited from major sporting events. People flock to Vegas to party, gamble and enjoy their favorite major sporting events on the gigantic screens in the casinos around the city. Although the NBA championship may be played in a different city, it’s still hard to find a room at a high-end hotel like Bellagio, Wynn or Caesars.

The point is that the host city receives a huge economic impact beyond the game, even if its main street is not lined with casinos. Last year, Major League Baseball’s World Series pitted the Houston Astros against the Arizona Diamondbacks. There was an economic windfall for the two cities.

According to a local economy study, Houston First Corp. found that each game played in Houston was worth $12.5 million. In Phoenix, where the D-Backs play, the numbers are similar. Even though fans want their team to win quickly and decisively, there is an economic benefit to the best-of-seven match going the distance. Restaurants, hotels and more benefit, and the taxes charged benefit the cities and states.

The NCAA March Madness “Final Four” basketball tournament is ironically played in April. This year’s “winning city,” regardless of the teams playing, is Phoenix. The last time Phoenix hosted the tournament was in 2017, and a Seidman Research Institute study at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business found an estimated 59,761 visitors stayed an average of 4.16 nights and spent an average of $487.19 per day, with a total economic impact of $324.5 million.


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The benefits of sporting and entertainment events for their respective cities can’t be ignored. Be it sports, concerts, festivals, art shows, etc., these events are not just enjoyed by people attending. The trickling benefit of a boom to the area makes the effort to produce and host the events worthwhile.

I recently met with Steve Schankman, the president of Contemporary Productions, who has produced concerts, special events and music festivals for more than 50 years. His events range from high-school venues where he booked Chuck Berry in the ’60s and ’70s, to the Super Bowl halftime show with U-2, to major music festivals starring Elton John, The Beach Boys and many other music icons, with millions in attendance throughout the years.

Last year, Schankman, with his partner Joe Litvag, produced Evolution Festival, a two-day summer music festival in St. Louis, with the goal of bringing the local community together to enjoy a talent lineup that featured Brandi Carlile, The Black Keys, Ice Cube, the Sugarhill Gang and more. If the lineup seems eclectic, that was purposeful, as Schankman’s dream was to unite music fans from every part of the area. “Music should bring people together, regardless of color, religion and sex,” says Schankman. More than 25,000 people—7,500 from outside the St. Louis area—enjoyed the festival. But it’s more than just entertainment for music fans, and he can’t wait to do it again with a lineup even more exciting and diverse than last year’s festival.

In an article recapping last year’s inaugural Evolution Music Festival, Schankman said, “I got 600 people working here. Besides that, we have employment taxes, we have sales taxes. We'll do seven figures in concession sales. Seven figures in ticket sales. So just the taxes alone for the state and the city are great.”

The Metro St. Louis area, with a population of more than 2.7 million people, profits from a major music event like Evolution Festival just like it would from a major sporting event. Looking beyond the fun-filled weekend, the financial side of the sports and entertainment industry benefits more than just the talent on the field, court, or stage. Even though a concert experience like Evolution Festival doesn’t have the same financial impact as a Super Bowl championship or Final Four tournament, there are still similar benefits.

According to Brian Hall, chief marketing officer at Explore St. Louis, the average travel party to St. Louis consists of three guests staying 2.4 nights and spending $969 on hotel rooms, restaurants, attractions, etc. Then you add on ticket sales for the event, food and beverage, and souvenirs, and the numbers grow. With approximately 7,500 out-of-towners attending the Evolution Festival, the city and state enjoy a windfall of tax revenue to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. In addition, there are future benefits. Hall says, “Visitation to a community is a precursor to economic development, including moving, relocating a company or starting a business in St. Louis.”

The events business, be it sports, a concert/music festival or any other large public affair, always has support from local, national and international sponsors. Large brands like AT&T, American Express and Anheuser-Busch put millions into major sporting events. While Schankman won’t compare the Evolution Festival to the Super Bowl, he said, “Cities like St. Louis offer sponsors the chance to be seen by a geographically targeted audience. The festival created 31 million impressions through the in-person experience, on social media and with our traditional advertising and marketing.”

Several times Schankman emphasized bringing people from all walks of life together. At the end of our interview, he summed it up by saying, “At a time when we’re experiencing racial and religious tension, political divide and terrifying world events, let’s remember what Beatles drummer Ringo Starr is known for preaching, ‘Peace and love!’ That’s what Evolution Festival is all about, and the businesses and brands that support it should want to be a part of something that special!”

From Super Bowl To Rock Concerts: The Real Winners Of Big Events (2024)
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