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What’s The Economic Impact Of Big Sporting Events? It’s Hard To Say

Tampa Bay Sports Commission
This is the third time Tampa has hoted the Women's Final Four.

The Women’s Final Four is the latest in a series of big sporting events in the Tampa Bay area.

Leaders say these games have millions of dollars in economic impact.

The cited figures include everything from direct spending by visitors to tax collections. But it can be difficult to estimate the effects of a single event, said University of Dayton economist Marc Poitras.

“Since it’s just a one-time thing, any effect on income is probably going to be temporary,” he said.

Tampa Bay business boosters and politicians touted the long-term benefits of the College Football Playoff in 2017. While Hillsborough County saw an increase in tax collections, the numbers were nowhere near the projected benefits.

Poitras said economic impact estimates always start with “a rosy scenario.” “And when you assume a rosy scenario, you tend to overestimate the economic impact of the events,” he said.


Organizers of the Women’s Final Four point to Columbus, which hosted the tournament last year. The city’s sports commission says it generated nearly $22 million in economic impact.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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