Contrary to recent news media reports, the presence of professional sports facilities in Florida has positive economic impacts, attracting thousands of national and overseas visitors and competitors each year. The sports facilities are located at the heart of sports, entertainment and tourism clusters with attractions that ensure visitors extend their stay and spend tourist dollars on hotels, meals, transportation, entertainment and retail purchases.
These expenditures by overnight visitors positively impact employment, household income and overall economic activity. The out-of-state visitors are also important in generating additional sales taxes, hotel bed taxes, and other public revenues. Part of the generated revenues are reinvested in the form of stadium improvements and new construction that generate jobs and additional income for residents.
As an example, Daytona International Speedway is reinvesting revenues generated by the facility into a $400 million renovation and modernization of the world’s most famous racetrack. Each year, thousands of competitors, race fans and tourists from across the world visit the Speedway, including high-net-worth car owners and wealthy investors, thus yielding significant business activity and supporting economic growth in the state. In essence, it is an example of “exportable” professional sports entertainment, bringing income to Florida by providing a top-of-the-line service.
The popularity of professional sporting events in Florida, both nationally and internationally, has been integral to Florida’s economic growth. In addition to the fans and competitors that decide to relocate here, the sports, entertainment and tourism clusters also attract companies to expand or relocate in the region.
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Furthermore, other events held at the professional sports facilities play a significant role in attracting and retaining other industries adding to the tourism and entertainment portfolio. If not for major sports venues, “spillover” impacts and supply relationships with businesses that provide food, transportation, technology, cleaning and other services within the state, would not be supported. On top of household income growth, these businesses all generate different streams of tax revenue that would not otherwise be generated.
The positive impacts of the growth of Florida’s sports, entertainment and tourism industries is further amplified by the global publicity of sporting events and their facilities through national and international television broadcasts and exposure generated through radio, print and online media.
This publicity elevates the awareness and reputation of the events held at professional sports facilities, contributing to the branding of the state as a professional sports leader in the United States Professional sports facilities also generate intangible benefits, such as the state’s point of pride and identity.
When all factors are considered in the evaluation of professional sports facilities, one can conclude that supporting sports venues through performance-based incentive programs is a positive investment for the State, and integral to enhancing the quality of living of Florida residents.
Tony Villamil, principal, Washington Economics Group, Coral Gables