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Study: National Championship Generated $274M For Arizona

On the field
(Photo by Matthew Casey - KJZZ)
Alabama beat Clemson in the Jan. 11 College Football Playoff National Championship game.

There’s no shortage of competition to host sporting events like the Super Bowl, but Arizona leaders say hundreds of millions of dollars generated by the College Football Playoff National Championship game are evidence the Valley should go after more.

“With two massive fan bases visiting our state, we had the opportunity to showcase Arizona assets to new visitors from across the country,” said Gov. Doug Ducey. “We delivered and the impact was felt across the entire Valley.”

This year’s CFP championship game had a roughly $274 million impact on Arizona’s economy, according to a study from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business.

But when the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four ends next year, the Valley will have no more huge sporting events scheduled for the near future. That means it’s time to compete for more, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

“Yes, we should continue to go after the big mega events,” Stanton said. “There is a tremendous payoff, both short term and long term, for our community.”

The payoff from the CFP championship game and Super Bowl XLIX was nearly $1 billion.

But an economics professor at Smith College in Massachusetts questions the accuracy of dollar amounts attached to big sporting events. Andrew Zimbalist said a methodology used in both studies isn’t always suitable.

“It’s usually based also on long-term data,” Zimbalist said. “Not data that is appropriate for a mega event that might last a few days or a week.”

The ASU study concluded that about 65,400 people came to the Valley for the CFP championship game. Besides the overall economic impact, it said the game generated about $12 million in sales tax revenue.

The CFP championship game was part of a three-year run of marquee sporting events. It started with the Super Bowl in 2015, continues this summer with the Copa America soccer tournament and ends next year with the college basketball national championship.   

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.