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Columbus Crew nets regional economic benefits

The Columbus Crew and Crew Stadium have generated more than $384 million in direct spending, both within and outside of the iconic stadium, helping to create hundreds of area jobs and produce millions in tax revenue.
These and other significant financial indicators that benefit the region emerged from the first-ever economic impact study commissioned by the Columbus Crew.
Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers commented, “We have always known that the Columbus Crew, as a major-league operation, delivers both tangible and intangible benefits for the central Ohio community. This in-depth study allows us to quantify those financial benefits and the significant economic impact.”
The Crew hired Texas-based consultants Conventions, Sports & Leisure International (CSL) to estimate the economic and fiscal impacts to the area since the team’s inaugural 1996 season and the opening of Crew Stadium in 1999.
Since 2000, more than 3.3 million people have attended soccer matches and other events at the stadium. Of the direct spending attributed to those attending Crew Stadium events, 69 percent is spent within the city of Columbus. When surveyed, those attending Crew Stadium events indicated that only 30 percent of their money would have been spent in Columbus if not for the Crew. In other words, 70 percent of the money spent locally at Crew Stadium events would not have been spent in the local economy if not for the Crew and Crew Stadium.
Last year, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman helped launch ‘Game On, Columbus!’  an initiative with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission to help Columbus’ professional sports teams increase season ticket sales and to reiterate the importance of professional sports to Columbus’s continued growth.
“Since 1996, the Columbus Crew has been generating pride for our community, jobs for our people and revenue for our city,” Mayor Coleman said. “The Crew is a key component to making Columbus a major-league city both economically and culturally.”
Event attendees typically spend just over $69 each in and outside of the stadium. This fan spending, combined with other expenditures by the team and its players, totaled $384.2 million from 1996 to 2011. A breakdown of that total showed that $219.5 million in new spending was generated in Franklin County (spending that would not have occurred within the county if not for the presence of the team and stadium), and $215.7 million in new spending was generated within the city of Columbus.
New spending within the state from the overall total was calculated at $148.4 million. The number is smaller than the city’s because a larger percentage of attendees are state residents compared to Columbus or county residents, so less of their spending can be considered “new.”
After applying economic impact multipliers, which account for re-spending of the initial direct expenditures in the local market, the Crew and Crew Stadium are estimated to have generated $355.1 million in new economic activity within the city of Columbus, $361.9 million within Franklin County and $243.3 million in the State of Ohio.
Furthermore, CSL calculated that the presence of the Crew and Crew Stadium has supported an average equivalent of 380 full- or part-time jobs on an ongoing basis since the team’s inception, including 490 jobs supported in 2011. These jobs have generated more than $163 million in wages earned by employees or businesses associated with or impacted by the stadium and team since 1996.
That presence has also produced tax revenue for the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio in the amounts of $6.5 million, $2.1 million and $14.6 million respectively.
CSL also determined that those levels of economic and fiscal impacts would be increased by 15 to 20 percent if annual season ticket sales reached 10,000; the team attracted more corporate sponsorships; and stadium naming rights and jersey sponsorships were added.
The Crew launched its “Goal 10k” campaign last fall to increase individual and corporate season ticket sales. To date, the results have been solid as the club has already surpassed its prior year mark for new season ticket sales. McCullers explained that a critical key to achieving Goal 10k is a substantial increase in corporate season ticket accounts.
“We are in the process of launching a corporate season ticket campaign that, over the next 60 days, will substantially impact our Goal 10k efforts,” McCullers said. “We need to increase our corporate season ticket base to a level comparable to other teams in similar sized markets. Information like this study helps support the decision to invest in the Crew.”
CSL conducted surveys at the stadium over two days last August to collect data for developing the economic impact model. The surveys showed that 69 percent of attendees lived outside of Columbus and 20 percent lived outside of Ohio.
Founded by American sports pioneer Lamar Hunt, the Columbus Crew is Ohio's Major League Soccer club, anchoring a diverse sports and entertainment enterprise. With an MLS-leading four consecutive playoff appearances to its credit, the Crew has begun preseason training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Its quest for a second MLS Cup begins March 10 at Colorado and First Kick at Crew Stadium is set for March 24 against expansion side Montreal Impact.

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