Big Events Don't Always Mean Big Payoff For Hosts

6:19 PM, Aug 21, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- It is a good time to be a sports fan in the Triad.

Between last week's Wyndham Championship and US National Diving Competition and this week's Winston-Salem Open, there is plenty of sports action to go around.

But even if you don't care about those sports, some local business recruiters say it's still a win.

The Piedmont Triad Partnership says those three events combine to total about $60 million in economic impact for the area from things such as hotel spending, food, entertainment and transportation. Each event is also telecast nationally, and in as many as 200 other countries.

"[Having those events] brings wealth and capital into our community," David Powell, the PTP's president and CEO said. [They] provide a very positive image that others outside of the community can view."

Powell says he takes CEOs and company leaders to sporting events like the three we've had in town to show off our area and recruit them to the Triad. And if you don't think they make an impact, the head of the Greensboro Area Convention and Visitors Bureau says "think again."

"Right now ... there's meetings going on in Greensboro that you won't hear about like you did the Wyndham, the diving and the tennis open over in Winston-Salem," Henri Fourrier said. "But they're bringing people and money into our community as we speak."

The City of Greensboro will likely pocket more than $3 million in hotel taxes this year, and the visitors bureau says the city will get $26 million for its general fund thanks to this year's tourism in Guilford County.

On the surface, having a big event sounds like money in the bank.

For the cities hosting this year's Democratic and Republican national conventions, it's easy to believe having the events will be money-makers.

In Charlotte, for instance, the visitors authority estimates next month's DNC will generate between $75-134 million. In Tampa, where the RNC starts next week, city leaders claim it could have a $170 million dollar impact. But a Florida economist says there's no way you should buy into those numbers.

"To say that these things have these economic impacts is to mislead the public," University of South Florida economist Philip Porter said.

He argues that when you figure in buying surveillance cameras, training police and handling problems with protestors like those that have happened at past conventions, the costs for cities quickly mount.

A study by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University took a look at the 2004 DNC in Boston. And while it shows a "total value added" figure of $157 million, it also shows displaced events, lost tourism and the loss of consumer spending the convention chased away means the net impact was only $15 million.

WFMY News 2

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