Local Cities Reap Benefits During Major Live Events 

In the post-pandemic era, the U.S. has seen a surge in live events and entertainment. PwC predicts that 2024 will bring in $68.7 billion in revenue from live events, including sports — this is an increase from 2019’s pre-pandemic $66.6 billion.

Bank of America surveyed more than 2,000 people aged 18 or older and found that “stadium events” such as star-studded concerts, sports and festivals have shown material local economic impact.

While cities gain revenue through ticket sales, they also receive a boost in spending at local restaurants and bars for pre-show and post-event. Foot traffic back to local cities can also be driven again by memories of memorable major events.

The Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix and Taylor Swift’s Pittsburgh concert yielded spikes in consumer spending for each city and significant boosts per active household spending during the respective weekends. The report found that Phoenix-area restaurants and bars saw an increase of more than 25 percent in visitors and Pittsburgh saw a 13 percent increase from residents in 2023.

Notably, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee estimated the Super Bowl LVII generated revenues of “$1.3 billion in total economic activity or gross output for Arizona.” Using the 2022 Arizona GDP as a benchmark, the committee also found $726.1 million in total contribution to Arizona’s GDP (approximately 0.15 percent of overall GDP).

Brick-and-mortar in-person retail spending amongst local and non-local active households in Phoenix increased over the 2023 Super Bowl weekend. Non-locals spent 7.5 percent year-over-year — with visitors’ total average retail spend totaling $236 over the weekend, a 10 percent increase versus the average February weekend monthly spending.

Meanwhile, Swift’s record-breaking “The Eras” tour had on average 54,000 fans attend each concert on the first leg of her American tour. Northwestern University estimates said that consumer spending could generate up to $4.6 billion for the total U.S. economy. Furthermore, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia noted that Swift’s tour helped stimulate travel and tourism in the region and made May the strongest month for hotel revenue in the city since the pandemic.

Some other major live events such as the Chicago Marathon and South by Southwest in Austin also drew in large crowds. The survey found a correlation between increased spending on local leisure activities such as museums and theaters.

The report’s authors suggest that with a continued rebound in live events and no shortage of demand, consumer spending at live events will continue to impact local communities moving forward. They continue in the report that the past two years have seen spending on services showcase clear evidence of consumer resilience.

Furthermore, surges in out-of-home entertainment bolstered spending throughout 2023. The Bureau of Economic Analysis showed spending (after adjustment for inflation) on categories such as entertainment has continued to gain over the average consumer spending throughout 2023.

One possible reason for this surge in spending is the “revenge spending” phenomenon — consumers are looking to make up for lost time during the pandemic by spending on experiences and entertainment, with live events benefiting the most.

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