Sports industry dollars measured in LA

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Los Angeles skyline with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background

Los Angeles skyline with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background (AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Sports events ranging from professional basketball and NASCAR races to the Los Angeles Marathon pulled in $4.1 billion for the greater Los Angeles economy last year, according to a sports industry study released today.

The direct impact of the local sporting events industry, which includes horse racing and college and university sports, was $1.7 billion in 2012, the same as in a 2009 study, but still 19 percent under the 2007 pre-recession high of $2.1 billion, according to the study sponsored by the Los Angeles Sports Council and the Los Angeles Area Business Chamber.

Last year, an estimated 18.5 million sports fans attended events, generating revenue that helped pay for an unexpected 27 percent jump in the rate of full-time employment in the sports industry, according to the researchers, a team of four MBA graduate students at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

The previous study done in 2009 showed 3,103 full-time jobs, which went up to 3,938 in 2012, outpacing pre-recession levels, researchers said.

Even as employment has risen, attendance at sporting events dropped about 2.3 million from the 20.8 million tallied in the 2009 study, also conducted by UCLA graduate students.

A still-slow economy, increasing ticket prices and better options for viewing sports events at home were some of the explanations researchers offered for the lower attendance numbers.

Responding to the attendance dip, sports council President David Simon pointed to a bright spot in the study that shows major league team events sold 82 percent of their tickets in 2012.

“I can’t think of many other cities in the country that sell that high a percentage of tickets,” he said.

The study, conducted over a three month period, “validates a fact that we already know to be true … L.A. is a great sports town and will continue to be one,” said Alan Rothenberg, chair of the chamber and sports council.

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Toebben said 2012 “was exciting for L.A. sports fans with both the Kings and Galaxy bringing home championships.”

“Our professional and college teams and our large-scale annual sporting events continuously serve as a source of pride for this community while contributing to the local economy,” he said.

With the 2012 results, the sports council and the business chamber have co-sponsored eight comprehensive studies conducted by UCLA business students into the Los Angeles area sporting events industry, with studies that are spaced out two or three years.

A study of the 2011 year had originally been slated, but with an NBA lockout that delayed the league’s professional basketball season by almost two months that year, “we didn’t think that was representative of a typical year,” Simon said.

The two organizations decided to push the study to 2012, which in turn saw another lockout. This time the labor dispute was in the NHL and led to nearly half of the league’s professional hockey games getting canceled.

The latest study looks at revenue generated from 50 local sports organizations, excluding high school sports and select one-time special events, and does not factor in spending on hospitality and travel expenditures, merchandising and secondary ticket sales. Also not included is spending on renovations at the Dodger Stadium and the Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, and the construction of USC’s McKay Center.

According to the study, the highest attended paid sports events last year, based on media reports, include the USC-Notre Dame at the Coliseum that drew 93,607 attendees, the Rose Bowl game that  brought in 91,245 fans, the Auto Club 400 that attracted about 90,000 people to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, and UCLA vs. USC football game at the Rose Bowl with 83,277 in the stands.

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