Researcher to study economic impact of Orange Bowl events
By Tom Harlan
A study of the economic impact of Miami's Orange Bowl festivities, including the FedEx Orange Bowl Game, is expected to be released next year.
Sports Management Research Institute, which has done studies for the US Open, the World Series and several Super Bowls, was hired by the Orange Bowl Committee, a non-profit group that hosts the annual event. The institute has done studies on the Orange Bowl in the past.
The institute is studying how the festivities will bring in football fans of the University of Southern California and the University of Oklahoma and whether nationwide media attention will benefit the South Florida visitor industry.
This year's game, scheduled for Jan. 4 at Pro Player Stadium, will decide the NCAA championship and be televised on ABC.
The institute will collect data by surveying audiences, the media, event sponsors and contractors.
"We're looking at a composite of all the events and the gameday audience itself," said Kathleen Davis, president and CEO of the institute.
The institute is to count expenditures by bowl visitors in the tri-county area and will include costs of flights to Fort Lauderdale and Miami, car rentals and shopping.
Eric Poms, chief operating officer of the Orange Bowl Committee, said in November that the football game and related festivities are expected to bring more than $200 million to the South Florida economy.
Ms. Davis said an executive summary of the institute's findings is to be presented to the Orange Bowl Committee, which will release the results.
Institute officials are to follow up with study participants after the game. They hope to finish the study in February or March, Ms. Davis said.
William Talbert III, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and a member of the Orange Bowl Committee, said the championship game and events are expected to bring between $180 million and $200 million to South Florida.
The bureau conducted a survey that showed hotels across the county are almost fully booked for several nights surrounding the game date, Mr. Talbert said. He said hotels were about 80% full last year, when the game matched Florida State University and the University of Miami.
Ms. Davis said the Orange Bowl typically draws consumers who spend more on a daily basis than the average tourist. She said bowl visitors will stay up to five days, more than double the stay of a typical tourist.
"Hotels can raise rack rates a little higher," she said, adding that hotels can require four-day-minimum stays during bowl games.
The inclusion of a West Coast team also will help the area, she said. Fans who travel cross-country usually stay longer, she said.
Mr. Talbert said the fans who make the long trip should be impressed by the development of the county and the number of major events it has hosted such as a top NASCAR race and the internationally renowned Art Basel festival.
Ms. Davis said the area will receive double or triple the normal media attention of a bowl game because it is a championship game. And a matchup of Heisman Trophy winners - USC quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 winner, and Oklahoma quarterback Jason White, the 2003 winner - could lead to additional print and TV reports, she said.
Ms. Davis said it's hard to predict how the bowl game will impact the area but said it will kick off the tourism season with a huge influx of visitors. "It's a fabulous way to initiate 2005, with the premier championship game in college football."