Tag Archives: jesse thompson

triathlon store

Sporting events pump billions into Arizona economy

If you build it, they will come.

We did. And they have.

Over the last decade, the Valley has added Jobing.com Arena, University of Phoenix Stadium, built new spring training facilities, upgraded old ones and visiting sports fans have responded by pumping billions of dollars annually into the economy. And when the Super Bowl returns to Arizona in 2015, the big winner will be the Valley, which will score an economic impact $600 million.

“If you take a look at the economic-impact studies that have been done for events such as spring training and the Fiesta Bowl and the Phoenix Open, the numbers are impressive,” says Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau. “For example, the last time the Super Bowl was here, in 2008, if you added its economic impact to that of annual events like Cactus League, the Phoenix Open, the Fiesta Bowl, and the NASCAR events at PIR, you’re looking at a number approaching $2 billion.”

But economic-impact studies alone don’t tell the whole story, Moore says.

“The enormous media value of hosting Super Bowls, college bowl games, NASCAR events, and NBA and (Majore League Baseball) all-star games simply cannot be purchased,” Moore says. “These big-time events also bring in corporate executives who use the games to entertain clients, and those executives and clients often return to town with their own corporate meetings.”

Arizona tourism leaders have utilized and marketed some its the state’s best features — sunny weather that guarantees no delays, desert scenery, excellent facilities and hotels — to become a major player in the world of sports. And the impact on the industry is staggering.

“Huge and immeasurable,” says Jesse Thompson, director of sales and marketing for Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. “Every traveling team spends a night in town. Every team has loyal followers who travel to see their teams. And more than just the team travel, you have sportscasters, television crews, medical teams, referees, and not to mention the hundreds of employees at these venues that service everything from security to bathroom cleaning. Also, all the ancillary travel revenues from cabs and taxis, airlines and airports, food and beverage, entertainment, and retail are huge considerations.”

Consider this:

> Cactus League baseball will have an economic impact in excess of $350 million this year; the average stay for fans will be four days; and most will spend $350 a day while they are here. “Spring training typically offers the biggest sporting-related economic boost we see every year,” says Ron Simon, general manager of Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort.
> The 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open pumped $222 million into Arizona’s economy — with direct sales tax revenue estimated to be $8.2 million — and non-local attendees spent an average of $300 per day.
> When the Super Bowl rolls back into town, 85 percent of the 73,000 fans at the game will be from out of state; 65 percent of them will be key company decision-makers; another 50,000 fans will visit without tickets; and the average Super Bowl visitor will spend $2,000 while they are here.
> Glendale alone draws between 4 million and 5 million people annually to sporting events that take place in Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District, which contribute to the city’s increased hotel occupancy and sales tax collection throughout the year.

“The Fiesta Bowl and spring training are tremendous economic engines for Glendale and the West Valley,” says Lorraine Pino, manager of the Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Both of these events bring hundreds of thousands of fans to the region. The hotel occupancy rate also reaches near capacity during spring training.”

But it’s not just high-profile athletes that drive sports tourism in Arizona. Beyond being known as a mecca for golfers, the Valley hosts high-profile events for amateur athletes that translate to big bucks for the tourism industry.

Events like Ironman Arizona and the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon are huge economic drivers because they bring not only the athletes, but their families and friends out for support which drives room nights and retail dollars for the entire community,” says Tori McLaughlin, regional director of sales and marketing, West Coast for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which includes both Hotel Palomar and FireSky Resort & Spa.

But beyond the beautiful golf courses, hiking trails and weather, Arizona has built its sports tourism empire by creating its own “Field of Dreams” story and epitomizing the “If you build it, they will come” strategy.

“There has been a major investment in the construction of spring training stadiums, including the development of new stadiums and enhancements to existing ones,” Simon says. “We’ve also seen great development and growth of the entertainment and shopping areas surrounding Chase Field in downtown Phoenix and Jobing.com Arena and University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.”

With improving infrastructure and venues, Phoenix is extremely well positioned to successfully bid for even more mega sporting events in the future, experts predict.

“Arizona’s success has created destination envy, particularly in Texas, which actually enjoys an advantage over us because they have legislation in place that allows them to provide hosting-obligation funds based on incremental visitor spending at these events,” Moore says. “In fact, both Houston and Dallas were chosen over the Valley during the last bids for the NCAA Final Four. But we’ve become a better competitor due to the metamorphosis of downtown Phoenix. We stressed this in our most recent Super Bowl bid. The fully expanded convention center, the 1,000-room Sheraton, light rail, CityScape, the new Westin and Hotel Palomar — none of these things were around in ’08, when the Super Bowl was last in Arizona. The NBA and MLB got a taste of the new downtown when they held their All-Star festivities here, and the NFL will get an even bigger taste in 2015.”

Tourism Industry - AZ Business Magazine January/February 2012

Arizona Tourism Industry Has A Billion-Dollar Impact On Economy

Economic engine: Arizona tourism industry packs an economic punch of $17.7 billion yearly

Tourism is one of the largest industries in Arizona, but it isn’t just about hotels and golf courses.

Its direct economic impact of $17.7 billion has helped keep the state afloat during some of its darkest economic days, and the ripple effect is even greater. Those dollars spill over to a host of businesses, from the farmers who supply produce to the hotel restaurants to the car dealers who sell vehicles to the banquet servers. They also help keep our police officers and firefighters on the streets, thanks to tax revenues.

“That trickle-down money does affect everyone who is a citizen of Arizona, to some degree,” said Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

And the money keeps coming, thanks to nearly 37 million overnight visitors annually.

“It’s so important to recognize the tourism industry is always here,” Henry said. “Even in recessionary times, people are still traveling.”

Tourism spending was up 7.9 percent in Arizona from 2009 to 2010 and has increased 25 percent since 2000. Overall, it’s still down 7 percent from its heyday of 2007, but most other indicators are moving in the right direction: Tax revenues, occupancy rates and demand are all up from 2009.

“It’s not that we don’t feel the effects of the recession,” Henry said, “but we’re still in the game.”

While the state has lost 11 percent of its tourism jobs since its high of about 173,400 in 2007, the industry still brings in $48 million a day. Tourism is the number one export industry in Arizona.

One way that benefits every resident directly is when the tax bills come. Taxes from tourism generate $1.3 billion in local and state revenue, which pays for everything from public safety to parks to libraries.

“When you look at the taxes generated, (tourism) saves every Arizona resident $1,000,” Henry said. Her agency, which was created in 1975, is responsible for marketing the state as a whole with multiple programs: advertising, public relations, community outreach, trade and media, and digital and social media, to all domestic and international visitors.
“(Travelers) have a lot of choices, so it’s important your destination stays in top of mind,” Henry said.

Part of the money for tourism outreach comes from tribal gaming. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011, tribal gaming revenues contributed $5.5 million to the state’s Tourism Fund. That comes from the $79 million total they deposited to the state, with another 12 percent of their annual revenue of almost $1.7 billion going to cities, towns and counties.

In addition, said Melody Hudson, public relations manager for Gila River Gaming Enterprises, “We have a deep and wide reach as far as our philanthropic activities, too.”

Tourism weaves through the fabric of our economy in ways that aren’t always obvious. Jesse Thompson, director of sales and marketing for the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, gave a list of local businesses that the hotel supports. Zuzu, its on-site restaurant, gets a good deal of its ingredients from local purveyors such as Red Bird Farms, McClendon Farms, Duncan Farms, Crave Artisan Ice Cream and Hickman Family Farms. Audio-visual contractors, limo and taxi drivers, independent conference planners, beverage distributors, decorators, and even the company that launders their linens – sheets, towels, tablecloths, spa robes – would all be affected if business dropped.

However, Thompson is proud that revenues at the 230-room Hotel Valley Ho increased 21 percent in 2011 over 2010, and he expects an 8 percent bump from 2011 to 2012. None of the 240 to 250 employees has been laid off in six years, despite the downturn. He attributes the increase in going after more group bookings.

Another way tourism boosts Arizona’s entire economy is by making the state not only an appealing place to visit, but to live. People might come to see auto shows, sporting events or festivals and decide to make a permanent move.

“People who visit Arizona often fall in love with Arizona and plot ways they can come to work here or bring their businesses,” said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It’s a gateway opportunity to sell the state of Arizona.”

Because the business community recognizes the importance of both visitors and tourists who become permanent residents, they work to bring major events such as the Super Bowl to the state. Hamer calls it a “showcase for our state.” In addition, the Super Bowl generated $500 million in economic impact in 2008. He expects the number to be at least that much when the Super Bowl returns to the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in 2015.

The business community also supports sports tourism in general, including spring training baseball, college football bowl games, the baseball All-Star game in July 2011, the NBA All-Star game in 2009, and amateur events such as marathons, triathlons, bicycle tours and student sports meets. And it pushed for the 2008 expansion of the Phoenix Convention Center, now one of the top 20 such venues in the nation.

“Our convention business is an important part of our tourism economic engine,” Hamer said.

Unlike other industries such as manufacturing and technology, Hamer said, much of the tourism industry can’t be automated or outsourced. And thanks to the state’s natural and man-made attractions, it appears to be an industry that’s sustainable.

“Arizona as a whole relied so much on construction,” said Heather Ainardi, director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau, “and in the next 10 years, tourism is going to be one of the drivers of Arizona’s economy.”

Arizona tourism industry: Economic impact of major winter Valley events

College football bowl games
(Fiesta Bowl, BCS national title game and Insight Bowl)

Economic impact: $354.6 million in 2010-11
2010-11 attendance: nearly 200,000 at all three games

P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Economic impact: $59 million
2011 attendance: about 30,000 runners

Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show

Economic impact: $52-58 million
2011 attendance: about 250,000

Cactus League baseball

Economic impact: $360 million
2011 attendance: More than 1.47 million

Waste Management Phoenix Open

Economic impact: $180 million (estimated from 2008, when attendance was 538,356)
2011 attendance: 365,062 (event impacted due to weather)

Arizona Business Magazine January/February 2012