A new report from the Common Sense Institute (CSI) found that $24.1 billion and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been generated by the growing Arizona sports and tourism sector.

According to the report, the sports and tourism sector employs 11% of Arizona’s total workforce and accounts for over 6% of the state’s total gross domestic product.

DEEPER DIVE: Valley hospitality industry eyes potential windfall from Super Bowl 57

The state now boasts professional teams in each of the U.S.’s top four sports leagues, over 30 state parks, and a staggering 24 national parks, including the Grand Canyon. According to CSI, Arizona’s moderate climate and numerous attractions places the state in a prime position to attract year-round tourism for major sports events such as the Super Bowl and the WM Phoenix Open, along with outdoor activities like golfing and hiking. 

Of the $24.2 billion contributed by sports and tourism, $13.7 billion was generated through “Direct sales by Arizona’s hotels, casinos, performance venues, and other components of the state’s sports & tourism sector in 2022.” One hundred sixty-seven thousand workers are currently employed directly by businesses in the sports and tourism sector with nearly another 200,000 jobs indirectly supported.

According to Katie Ratlief, executive director of the Common Sense Institute, “Arizona’s moderate climate, excellent hospitality industry and major event spaces have made it a magnate tourism destination.” 

“This growing sector is a massive contributor to our economy, and big events like this weekend’s Super Bowl will only continue the momentum. Arizona’s hospitality industry is truly the ‘welcome mat’ for millions of visitors to our state,” she said.

CSI’s report finds that the sector has not reached its peak yet. The think tank estimates that over the next 10 years Arizona will see the sports and tourism sector grow on average 3% per year. With Arizona hosting its fourth Super Bowl since 1996, the state’s ability to consistently attract major events will ensure that the sector can grow in the future.

When Arizona last hosted the Super Bowl in 2015, the Arizona Sports and Tourism authority found that the event contributed more than $719 million dollars alone. CSI and other observers  project that Super Bowl LVII will turn out to be an even bigger event, contributing even more to the growing Arizona economy once the dust settles.

The Super Bowl also offered Arizona the chance to showcase its friendly business environment, as the Arizona Commerce Authority and host committee welcomed CEOs from across the country at a CEO Forum to learn more about why Arizona is a great place to grow a business.

Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden moderated a panel on the state’s workforce that featured the presidents of UArizona and Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University Executive Vice President Sally Morton, and Pima Community College Chancellor Lee Lambert, who gave attendees an insider’s view at how their schools are preparing graduates for today’s economy.

“The CEO Forum is the perfect opportunity for business leaders from across the country and even around the world to get an up-close look at why Arizona has one of the nation’s strongest and most dynamic economies,” Seiden said. “It’s just one example of how the sports tourism market is about much more than just what happens on the field.”

Like many other industries, the sports and tourism sector was hit hard by the 2020 pandemic. But since then, the sector has come roaring back even stronger than ever. 

Kim Sabow, the vice chair of the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority Board and the president and CEO of the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association said the sector has faced recent pandemic-induced headwinds, but hosting the Super Bowl brings tremendous momentum

“Arizona’s sports and tourism industry has been through a lot of challenges over the past three years,” she said. “Thanks to our operators and our dedicated employees, we’ve come out the other side stronger. This weekend is an opportunity to highlight the value and contributions of our industry to an international audience, and CSI’s report shows that this is an industry that has a massive ripple effect across all of Arizona.”
To learn more about the Common Sense Institute, click here.