As this year’s much-anticipated NCAA Tournament Final Four arrives in Detroit this weekend, many have touted the economic boost the games will bring to the downtrodden city. But one University professor says that the games’ impact might not be as clear as some have predicted.
Kinesiology Prof. Jason Winfree said that the economic impacts of these types of sporting events are usually over-estimated.
“The Super Bowl was expected to bring in $300 million, but in reality it brought about one-tenth of that,” he said. “The Final Four is estimated to bring in $30 to $50 million in revenue, but that number isn’t a big deal to the city of Detroit,” because as he explained it’s not that much money relative to Detroit’s dire situation.
Winfree said that while having the Final Four here might help the city of Detroit, it may not benefit the entire state of Michigan. Since many people are coming from Lansing because Michigan State is competing, he said Detroit will get that additional business, but the state of Michigan will not see an influx of money.
The economic effects of such events, Winfree said, also depend on other factors.
“How many of the businesses involved will be local ones and how much money will actually stay in Detroit are interesting questions,” he said. “If the company’s headquarters are in Detroit, that makes a big difference to the city.”
He said having events like the Final Four also carries a big price tag for the city.
“Most of the time the city spends a lot of money getting the event into the city,” he said, adding that such funding isn’t always rewarded with a relative economic boost.
While Winfree says the games’ economic impact might not be as clear as some have predicted, he noted the city’s economy will receive some benefit.
“Hotels will be booked, the event will bring outside businesses, and it will give Detroit good publicity,” he said. “It could have positive long-term effects.”
He added: “It is a good political move.”
In addition to the economic role of the games, Kinesiology Prof. Bettina Cornwell said that the event is great for community building.
“All events of this magnitude are good for the community,” she said. “It will be an upbeat, positive event, and during a time of economic downturn for the state — this is just what the city needs.”
Cornwell said both local and national businesses will spend a lot of money within Detroit’s borders this weekend, which should help the city in the long run.
“The city will get local involvement by the business community, as well as corporate sponsorship such as AT&T, Statefarm, and others,” she said. “And the more successful a region is in pulling off events like these, more of these events will come to that region.”
Cornwell said that while this event won’t revitalize Detroit’s economy, it will be a bright spot for a city in desperate need of a some good news.
“You’re not going to solve Detroit’s economic woes by an event, but it is definitely a positive step,” she said. “A lot of the community is already coming forward — it’s great.”