Tennis tourney to be subject of economic-impact study
By Suzy Valentine
The NASDAQ-100 Open tennis tournament, which got under way in Miami this week, is to be the subject of an economic impact study for the first time in a decade.
When analysts in the 1990s gathered data for the championship, now in its 22nd year, they found that it brought $100 million to the region.
Since then, the tournament has grown, leading its organizer to believe it is now generating more tourism dollars for South Florida.
"We are conducting a study this year," said tournament director Adam Barrett, "because we haven't done one since the mid-1990s. We last did a study nine or 10 years ago, at which time the impact was $100 million. I know we've grown and that we're recognized as the fifth major. We have more grandeur now than we did a decade ago."
Tournament officials have commissioned the Sports Management Research Institute of Weston to undertake the study through April 2.
"We have a very sophisticated model," said the institute's Kathleen Davis. "We are using the same protocol as we used in the early 1990s, so it has benefited from 16 years of perfection."
Ms. Davis elaborated on the survey techniques.
"There will be a lot of onsite primary data collection," she said, "in which we plan to tap all the expenditure levels. There are 570 or so independent businesses that could benefit from tournament dollars, so we will ask the tourists where they stayed and for how long and we'll find out about their food and beverage preferences and choices in entertainment."
Tournament officials have been collecting data to show the international reach of the event. This year, 43 TV networks will cover the championship, and officials have issued 750 credentials to journalists from 32 countries.
Last year, the NASDAQ-100 Open sold tickets in 24 countries and across 50 states.
The economic impact study, however, is concerned with isolating dollars spent here.
"We try to focus on the economic benefits," Ms. Davis said. "We hope to collect about 1,500 usable surveys. That's a large sample size. We'll be conducting random surveys each day and evening from the start to the finish of the tournament. Then we take the numbers and tap them into IMPLAN, one of the best models for manipulating that kind of data."
Ms. Davis said she expected the tournament's impact to be far-reaching.
"We should come up with coefficients from the tri-county area and for South Florida in general," she said. "Some visitors to the tournament stay as far away as the Florida Keys."
"It's important for our partners to have that information," said Mr. Barrett, adding that pre-tour sponsorship has grown year-on-year. "We have a number of first-year partners, including MBNA and Nexus, which is sponsoring a fashion show. We're up 5% to 10% on ticketing sales. The tournament is responsible for filling more than 14,000 hotel rooms and we've engaged the services of 2,500 to 3,000 employees and contractors this year."