$7 million per game: World Series a grand slam for local economy

News-DemocratOctober 22, 2013 

Millions of dollars are expected to come into the greater metropolitan area with the two, and possible three, World Series games between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox this weekend in downtown St. Louis.

The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission and Regional Chamber projected that each home World Series game will generate about $7.9 million for the region -- $3.7 million from direct spending in and around Busch Stadium and $4.2 million will be in indirect spending.

Brian Hall, chief marketing officer for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission, said the CVC estimates that 10,000 people are booking rooms in hotels on both sides of the river.

"What's happening with games like the World Series is you have a lot of people from Major League Baseball coming in and entertaining their clients, VIPs, and the result is you have a major influx of heavy hitters that spend substantial amounts of money. It's a great for the economy."

Economist John Navin, who also serves as the interim dean of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Business, said the impact also will be felt at hotels and restaurants in the metro-east.

"The nice thing about a World Series is it brings a ton of people who come from out of town, and you have dollars and lot more coming into the economy that wouldn't be there otherwise," Navin said. "They will book hotel rooms, go to restaurants, buy airline tickets, take taxi cabs and go to other tourism venues."

But a Massachusetts sports economist found that consumers are not spending more, they are redirecting or "rearranging" their discretionary income. Victor Matheson, an economic professor at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., researched the economic impact Major League Baseball teams have on their home towns and found that the impact is not great, depending on the type of business.

"These are people just spending money on the Cardinals as opposed to other things," Matheson said. "It's not like people stop spending in late October because of baseball.

"They are rearranging," he said. "If you are a movie theater owner in St. Louis here this weekend, you're disappointed because everyone is staying home and watching the game. If you are a mall, the stores are going to be dead when the games are on. Everyone will be watching the game. If you are a fine-dining restaurant, you are probably a little disappointed. If you're a restaurant with television sets, you're pretty happy."

Hosting a World Series also creates a positive vibe. Brett Boyle, associate professor of marketing and coordinator for the Sports Business program at St. Louis University, said that the World Series will likely put a smile on your face -- even if you're not a Cards fan.

"There's a definite psychological effect on the city," Boyle said. "When the city is highlighted on a national level, given the brand of the Cardinals is so synonymous with the city of St. Louis, it has a definite impact on people's moods.

"St. Louis is unique in its relationship with a baseball team," he continued. "To me, it's a true baseball town."

Hall said he does not know if this national spotlight on the home team will coerce more consumers to buy other goods while their are here, but local accommodations and restaurants are expected to benefit.

Boyle said the expected guests and the nationally televised games should eventually boost the region's economy.

"The exposure the city is going to get nationally will only have a positive impact on the city," he said. "The Arch is going to be shown 1,000 times on the World Series. That kind of exposure has literal value. That's likely going to impact tourism and positive impact on the city."

Hall said the series will bring in more private jet traffic into Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and Spirit of St. Louis Airport. At St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia and Sauget, airport Director Bob McDaniel said he expects a few hundred planes will be flying in carrying in fans. He said past World Series have brought in 300 to 400 jets to the metro-east airport.

"We're ready to handle anyone that wants to come in," McDaniel said. "We have our welcome mat out."

In Caseyville, Vandalia Bus Lines has been transporting professional baseball, football and hockey teams into downtown St. Louis for decades and will be transporting both the Cardinals and visiting Boston Red Sox from the airport to hotels in downtown St. Louis this weekend. Company President Dale Streif said these games will infuse an extra $15,000 to $25,000 into the business.

"I saw the same guy in Boston that I dealt with in '04 (when the Cardinals lost the World Series to the Red Sox) and I told him to take it easy on us this year," Streif said.

Streif also said the shuttle bus company lost business during the recent federal government shutdown, when military services that had reserved shuttles over the past two weeks had to cancel their reservations. He also said the first game that will be played in St. Louis will be Saturday night, the third game of the series, which should be a good day for business.

"It's been good in October on a Saturday, when you're busy anyway," Streif said. "Usually October Saturdays have Oktoberfest and high school bands. It's an extra boost, not just with the World Series, but also with the playoffs. We also are picking up some of the revenue we lost when the government was shut down."

If the series were to go on for five games, Game Five would be played on Monday night -- the same night the St. Louis Rams will be playing the Seattle Seahawks a few blocks away in the Edward Jones Dome. Vandalia Bus Lines also will be transporting those football players that day.

"On Monday night, with the World Series and Monday Night football, that will be doozy day," Streif said.

The World Series already is generating dollars at local sporting goods stores. Last Saturday morning, following the Cardinals victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday night to win a trip to the series, Johnny Mac's Sporting Goods in Swansea and other metro-east retailers were stocked and selling caps, T-shirts, sweatshirts and other memorabilia commemorating the team's 2013 National League Championship.

"We're definitely seeing a big increase, especially on Saturday after they clinched," said Tyler Schwarz, assistant manager at Johnny Mac's.

"They eat it up," said a manager from Sports Authority in Fairview Heights. "It flies out the door."

Michael Palovcsik, assistant manager at the Cardinals Clubhouse store in St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights, said the white National League Championship caps have been the best seller and were sold out within a couple hours on Saturday. He said the store always cashes in during the World Series.

"With every World Series, business gets greater and greater, you could say," Palovcsik said. "We have the best fan base in baseball. It gets pretty exciting for us and it's always busy around this time. It's always exciting."

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