PELHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Yet another sports-filled weekend in central Alabama, from the Birmingham Bulls in Pelham, to A-day in Tuscaloosa and the races at Talladega, and these sporting events are bringing a big boost to the region.
Not only do these large-scale events bring in thousands of people, but also a lot of money as fans spend in local restaurants, hotels and bars.
Ashtain O’Neal says he’s a die-hard fan of the Birmingham Bulls, being a season-ticket holder for the last 4 years. He says each game he probably spends $50-60 on food or merchandise.
“Over the last couple years, how much do you think you’ve spent?”
“Shew. I would say over the last couple of years, probably about maybe over $300 per season,” says O’Neal.
O’Neal says this cost is worth it to him to be able to cheer on his favorite team. Other Bulls fans also believe the cost of sporting events equals out with the experiences you get.
“These are lifetime memories,” says Bulls fan Belinda McMichael. “There’s no amount that you could put on lifetime memories with your children, your grandkids, your adopted children.”
Each fans expenses add up and the city says depending on the size of the sporting event, could bring in millions of dollars.
“Sporting events are helping the economy recover and frankly, helping the economy from the fact that business travel is down some,” says Gene Hallman, CEO of Eventive Sports.
“Youth sports is a big economic driver when it comes to sports impact on cities so anything from youth tournaments that are hosted in any of our facilities,” says Michael Eady, president and founder of Knight Eady. “These people are coming and staying in our hotels, they’re eating in our restaurants, they’re ultimately spending their money here which is going back into our community.”
The city of Birmingham says it’s making a name for itself in the sports world, hosting the World Games in 2022, first two round of March Madness last month and two other international competitions scheduled by 2025.
“It’s cemented our narrative and our identity around Birmingham being a sports and entertainment hub,” says Cornell Wesley, Birmingham Economic Development Director. “We have the infrastructure, we have the people, we have the resources and we’re ready to handle even a tier one event.”
The city says it’s still compiling the data on how many people came to Birmingham for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and how much money the city made during it. With events like the World Games and first two round of March Madness on its sports resume, the mayor’s office says it hopes to keep bringing events of that magnitude to the city.