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Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)
The economic impact estimate is in for the 2019 Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium, so let the debate begin.
The number is $142 million.
"We didn't want the biggest number, we wanted the most credible number," Final Four CEO Kate Mortenson said.
The 2019 Minneapolis Final Four Local Organizing Committee commissioned the report by Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics, the same firm that did the pre-Super Bowl LII estimates and is now analyzing the actual financial gains from the NFL event.
Trying to define a community's financial benefit from hosting a major event leaves a Grand Canyon's worth of space for debate.
There are the estimates and then there are the assumptions that underlie them.
In the Final Four analysis, Rockport estimated the Twin Cities will see 94,000 visitors. The report considers a visitor to be someone who comes from more than 50 miles away or stays in a hotel.
The estimated daily spending of each visitor is $386 a day over an average stay of 3.4 days.
To reach the estimate of $142 million, Rockport assumed $35 million in displaced tourism during the four days of the event. That was subtracted from the estimated $168 million in gross local spending.
For the Super Bowl, Rockport estimated 125,400 nonresident visitors would come for the 10-day event and spend about $338 million.
Kenneth McGill, managing director at Rockport, prepared and presented both the Super Bowl and Final Four reports. The firm is still crunching the numbers for the final report on the Super Bowl, but McGill said he expects the overall results to be "fairly close to our estimate."
The estimated "tax windfall" from the Final Four is $23 million. McGill's report makes the point that the figures don't include "additional benefits" of global media exposure, new interest in the Twin Cities and Minnesota for future events or general civic pride.
The merits of hosting such events likely won't be settled definitively any time soon, but Mortenson said the economic impact studies are expected and a means of accountability.
"Whether it's $100 million or $150 million, it's that much more than zero," she said, then added that the reasons for hosting a Final Four extend beyond economics.
The event's an opportunity to celebrate student athletes, tell a story about Minnesota to the world, leave a legacy through a charitable arm and engage the community, she said.
"We have our eye on those pieces with the same fidelity we have our eye on the economic impact," Mortenson said.
Rochelle Olson · 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson
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