What's the sound of an announcement of the Music City Bowl's economic impact?
It was near silence last week when the bowl reported that it's economic impact for the Dec. 31 game topped $27 million, a more than 30 percent gain over 2006, on another sellout year for the match-up pitting the University of Kentucky against Florida State University.
In certain circles, the report was met with a groan. The attitude being there goes the Nashville Sports Council again inflating the bowl's impact on the city.
The back channel discussion is that a 30-percent gain doesn't seem plausible based on hotel occupancy and that perhaps the bowl is pumping up the number with an already strong day.
Over the past several years, there have been some many economic impact studies that have been released on this or that, all pretty much aimed at justifying the existence or value of whatever.
And the validity of most has been questioned. That's true of the Music City Bowl's impact as well as the sport council.
The chief criticism has to do with multipliers used in the calculations. The bowl has eliminated those multipliers and created a model that others are the country have tried to mimic. One area the bowl doesn't try to place a value on is the television exposure, which was better on ESPN than it's ever been.
Despite that, the bowl's figures still raise eyebrows.
This past year, the game came on New Year's Eve when hotel occupancy downtown is already high. Occupancy was lower last year than the previous year but the average daily rate was higher.
On New Year's Eve 2006, occupancy was at 70.7 percent on game day. Downtown occupancy was just shy of 80 percent last year. Occupancy the day before the game was just over 70 percent last year.
The previous year occupancy on game day, Dec. 29, was 85 percent and just over 86 percent on Dec. 28.
Now, the average daily rate on game day last year was $120.66 and $113.57 the previous day. That's compared to $98.48 on game day 2006 and $96.29. New Year's Eve 2006's daily rate was $105.65.
In 2006, there was one more day of higher rates because of the game falling on Dec. 29. That was also helped by a New Year's Eve concert at the Sommet Center, which didn't happen this past year.
It appears the bowl game either filled a void or prevented people from coming downtown to ring in the New Year regardless of a concert.
Still, somewhere in all that for 2007 is $7 million gain.
The bowl game sold out with a record 68,661 attendance and ranked ninth of the 32 bowl games. Bowl officials attributed the higher economic impact on an increase of out-of-town visitors, longer average stay and higher daily spending.
So last year, 53,556 people came in from out of town, according to the bowl. That's 2,538 more than the previous year.
According to bowl officials, the folks stayed an average of 1.67 days last year compared to 1.42. They spent an average of $250 per day compared to $226.
Middle Tennesseans who attended the game spent more, too, $202 per day compared to $154. Those figures are a bit tricky because they come under that category of redistribution of money within the Nashville area. If they didn't spend there, they may have spent it on something else.
The bowl determines the spending on a survey that had 500 responses, which, according to some expert somewhere is plenty.
Just on the out-of-town visitors, the total runs to $22 million. With the in-town, spending the figure grows by another $3 million.
That leaves $2 million, which is the money spent locally on operations and such with the game.
There's a question of how much any of it should be counted and whether the count is accurate.
Nonetheless, no one argues that the bowl game isn't good for downtown and Nashville. It's just a matter of how good.
Perhaps by showing how good it is that's part of the bowl's sales pitch to potential corporate sponsors. Gaylord Hotels, of course, is the lead. But Bridgestone reduced its commitment and more sponsors apparently needed.
There is a question of whether or not the bowl operates at a loss.
But if the bowl keeps showing an ever-increasing economic impact, then the NCAA might be enticed into leaning on bowl officials to increase the pay out to the teams.
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