West Virginia University football generates approximately $1.6 million for Monongalia County during game days in Morgantown – or an $11.2 million infusion over the seven-game season, according to a recent WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research study.
Dr. Christiadi, a demographer with the bureau who authored the study, said it presents a “conservative look” at WVU’s economic impact on the area just on game days. (NOTE: Christiadi, who is Indonesian, goes by only one name.)
The $1.6 million in economic impact per game — of which $880,000 is direct and $770,000 is indirect and induced — includes $360,000 in employee compensation and $55,000 in assorted taxes. If quantified in jobs, the figure would equal 649 part-time jobs, according to the report.
The Economic Impact of One WVU Home Football Game on the Monongalia County Economy does not include the effect of game days on surrounding counties in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, nor does it include the results of annual spending from WVU Athletics’ operating budget.
It does compensate for activity – such as weddings and conferences that are often spurred by the presence of WVU – that would normally take place if there were not a home football game in Morgantown.
And since the study analyzes a season when the University was still in the Big East Conference, the economic impact now that WVU is in the Big 12 Conference will likely be different.
“Most likely the impact with us being in the Big 12 should be higher,” Christiadi said. “It will generate high interest so that means it will attract more visitors to the games.”
Christiadi said the conservative nature of the report makes it more accurate as well.
This impact is derived mostly from lodging, restaurant and bar sales and to a lesser extent, gas station, parking and airport sales. While some employment-related expenses are included in the study, such as maintenance technicians and police hired to provide security at the game, the money spent on hiring referees is not included because these workers are typically not local.
Expenses related to the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics such as employee salaries, food and beverages served to the players and utility costs are not included in the study results because they are difficult to quantify per game, the study notes.
“We don’t include operational expenses that the athletic department makes on one particular game,” Christiadi said. “That part of the impact should be part of the impact of WVU in general, and we try to focus on looking at the impact that is really felt by businesses in town.”
Also, volunteer services provided by those who sell merchandise, concessions and welcome and serve spectators are also not included in the report. However, it is estimated that at least 400 volunteers assist in selling merchandise alone on game day.
One statistic that cannot currently be included in game day economic figures is the expenses for lodging and feeding visiting teams. Currently teams stay in the Washington, Pa., area. This is primarily due to the teams’ inability to find large enough establishments in Morgantown, moving that particular impact to the Pennsylvania economy.
Christiadi writes that some results from a WVU football game are intangible. There’s no figure that can be put on a game’s economic impact in relation to improving the Morgantown area’s quality of life and visibility, that in the end not only could work to attract students but businesses as well.
It’s likely, though, that WVU football games cause visitors to spend money in nearby counties of Preston, Marion, Harrison and possibly Lewis as part of their game day activities, he added.
Because the study is unique and pays special attention to accuracy, erring on the side of not overestimating the impact, it can’t be compared to those of other universities. It is the first study to quantify the economic impact of a WVU football game in this way.
The study resulted from a survey of lodging, eating and drinking establishments in the county and compared data from game days versus non-game days.
To view the study, click here.
CONTACT: Dr. Christiadi, WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research
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