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UW Athletics economic impact statement released

<b>Fans in the Kohl Center</b>

Fans in the Kohl Center

April 29, 2011

UW Athletics Ecnomic Impact Statement

MADISON, Wis. -- What's the impact on the local economy when the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team leads the Big Ten in attendance as it now has for eight of the last nine seasons?

"Significant,'' said UW athletic director Barry Alvarez.

Significant because 71 percent of the people who attended games at the Kohl Center during the 2010-11 season ate in local restaurants or bars, according to a recent report demonstrating the considerable economic impact of the UW athletic department.

Significant because a basketball fan typically spent $98.25, excluding tickets, on a trip to the Kohl Center. That included lodging, transportation, food and beverages and merchandise purchases.

What's also significant, Alvarez pointed out, is the construction on the La Bahn Arena, which is going up adjacent to the Kohl Center. The new facility is creating and/or supporting hundreds of jobs.

Mike Lucas
UWBadgers.com Insider

In addition, the La Bahn Arena will generate $1.9 million in tax revenue.

That, too, is significant, Alvarez noted.

Especially since the UW athletic department receives no state funding for its operating budget.

"There's always been the assumption that we don't pay taxes,'' Alvarez said. "In truth, we're not taking any (money from the state) and we're giving back (to state and local governments).

"It's all part of a bigger picture.''

And much bigger numbers, he added, in terms of the athletic department impacting the economy in the state of Wisconsin by supporting businesses, creating and supporting jobs and generating tax revenue.

Bigger numbers such as $970 million - the total economic impact annually on the Wisconsin economy; $843 million from fan spending and support.

Bigger numbers such as 8,853 - the number of jobs created and supported; 7,377 from fan spending and support.

Bigger numbers such as $52.8 million - the tax revenue generated; $46.6 million from fan spending and support.

Now also consider, Alvarez said, another big number: $152 million; the potential economic impact of the new campus facilities, the La Bahn Arena and the Athletic Performance Center.

Together, they will create and support 1,621 jobs and generate $6.9 million in tax revenue.

"There are a lot of eye-popping numbers that most people probably don't understand,'' Alvarez conceded. "These numbers are largely driven by fan spending and support which is important to know.''

Badger fans, in fact, are responsible for 87 percent of the total economic impact of the UW athletic department, while generating more than $843 million each year.

The overall impact extends beyond a football Saturday or a Big Ten game at the Kohl Center given the WIAA events held at campus venues and events like this weekend's Crazylegs Classic.

"Much of the money that fans are spending is being spent in private businesses,'' Alvarez said. "So there is a significant economic impact on the community and the region.''

The economic impact report revealed that a fan typically spent $156.27 annually on Badger-related merchandise; an average amount that didn't include any purchases at sporting events.

"It's important that our patrons know that their money is not just feeding us,'' Alvarez said, "but it's being spread throughout the economy and a lot of people are benefiting from it.''

The average spending of a fan attending a UW football game is $232.53, excluding tickets. Almost 76 percent are eating in local restaurants and bars and 11 percent are paying for lodging.

"When you think about it,'' Alvarez said, "it's a powerful economic force when you have that many people spending money for meals and hotels and transportation and merchandise.''

Alvarez reiterated that the UW athletic department is not using tax money.

On the contrary, it's generating tax revenue.

"We're not a tax-reliant organization,'' he said. "We're a tax-producing organization.''

He didn't say it, but it's obvious the state could use more of the latter than the former.

By Mike Lucas UWBadgers.com

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