Economic Impact of Baseball in Southwest Florida. Baseball is America s pastime. Southwest Florida is a great place to catch some

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1 Sullivan 1 Conor Sullivan Security Analysis Professor Hill 27 March 2016 Economic Impact of Baseball in Southwest Florida Baseball is America s pastime. Southwest Florida is a great place to catch some sun in the winter for a weekend, week, or even months. Southwest Florida, especially Lee County, is also a great place to go escape the cold weather and watch America s pastime. Lee County has two Major League teams, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, who host their spring training in Fort Myers from the early days of February to the end of March. How could spring training for a short six weeks help impact economics in Southwest Florida? Spring training in Lee County is a big contributor to local business s, hotels, and revenue for the county. Spring training in Lee country has been known to help local businesses. There are at least ten hotels within a four-mile radius of Hammond Stadium, home of the Twins. While there are another nine within a four mile radius of the new JetBlue Park, home of the Red Sox. There are nine restaurants within a mile of the Twins Stadium while there are ten within a three-mile radius of where the Red Sox call home. The last few years have been very difficult, says Jeff Webb, owner and general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites on Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers. If we didn t have baseball and all the other sports, my business would not have done as well, and, who knows, I might ve even

2 Sullivan 2 had to close it. 1 This shows how valuable spring training is to local businesses and hotels throughout Lee County. Hammond Stadium and JetBlue Park are occupied by their respected teams from February until late March. However, they rent out their fields for travel baseball teams in the summer and the fall. President of the Lee county Hotel Association Jim Larkin says that the stadiums are a great tool to help recruit teams to play in their tournaments. 2 25,000 local rooms were bought out in July of 2012 from summer league teams and families. All of these ball players in Lee County will also help local sports stores. Many times during tournaments, kids will need new batting gloves, a new wood bat, or just a souvenir that just about every child wants while going on vacation. Florida is home to half of Major League baseball s teams. In Florida, the Grapefruit League (MLB teams in Florida) contributes about $783 million in annual sales to the state, $385 million from out-of-state visitors. Lee County hosts two of the most popular MLB teams. Lee County is one of three locales in Florida to support two MLB teams. In 2014, the Red Sox had the second highest spring training attendance, 147,669. The Twins had the fifth best attendance averaging about 7,700 fans a game. To put this in better perspective, both teams that play at Roger Dean Stadium (Marlins and Cardinals) drew 157,053 fans combined. Bigger attendances mean more revenue, which means more opportunities in Lee County because of the Twins and Red Sox. The housing bubble hit Lee County hard. Back in summer 2010, as the start of a new fiscal year approached, Florida s Lee County was tasked with closing a massive 1 2

3 Sullivan 3 budget deficit. Located on the southwest coast of Florida, the housing bubble hit the county hard, and its unemployment rate was more than 40 percent higher than the national average. Desperate, county leaders considered tough choices like cutting millions from their EMS budget and instituting employee pay cuts and furloughs. They did that, and they took $75 million from their reserve fund. Yet in the midst of those struggles, the county made one decision that faced little dissent: selling up to $81 million in bonds to fund a new baseball stadium where the Boston Red Sox would play 18 exhibition games in the spring per year. 3 Not only did Lee County renovate the Red Sox facilities in the last few years, Hammond Stadium won 2015 best major renovation. The two-year, $48.5-million renovation was funded via a public-private partnership between the Twins and Lee County, which used tourist-development tax dollars on the project. The design came from Populous, the Kansas City (Mo.) sports-architecture firm also responsible for the Target Field design, while construction was overseen by Manhattan Twins Joint Venture, a partnership between Manhattan Construction Company, Chris-Tel Construction and Casey Construction. 4 This two-year renovation was well worth it because now Lee County arguably hosts the two best spring training facilities throughout the Grapefruit League, Florida spring training teams. Baseball has a positive economic impact in Southwest Florida. Spring training contributes to local businesses, hotels and restaurants. Local businesses, such as a sports 3 Training.html 4

4 Sullivan 4 store, have great opportunities for new customers looking for a new glove, batting gloves, or the latest baseball apparel for the young players upcoming tournaments. Local hotel owners have benefited off of families coming down to watch the Twins or Red Sox as well as parents making their way down south to watch their children play tournaments in Big League stadiums. Local restaurants have a wide variety of fans coming down to look for a bite to eat before or after the games; at least nine restaurants within a three mile radius of each facility. Keeping the Red Sox and Twins in Southwest Florida not only positively affects local businesses, hotels and restaurants; but also Lee County as a whole. These teams draw in thousands of fans each year to Lee County, where people all over the country can see what many opportunities Southwest Florida has to offer Spring Training Study Lee County Objectives To estimate the number of non-year-round residents attending spring training games/practices in Lee County and the amount of money they spend in the process; To examine the number of visitors and money spent by those in Lee County primarily to attend spring training; To explore the role of spring training on attendees initial visitation, repeat visitation and home purchase in Lee County; To profile the visitors attending spring training and their trips to Lee County; and

5 Sullivan 5 To compare and contrast the profiles and impacts of the two teams now holding spring training in Summary Hosting spring training activities has a positive impact on the Lee County economy. Visitors to the Fort Myers area attending Spring Training contribute more than $47 million to the Lee County economy. This includes more than $12 million spent shopping and more than $11 million on food and beverages. These dollars represent a conservative estimate that does not include spending at the parks or on tickets, as these expenditures tend to stay with the teams themselves. Also excluded are spending during the weeks in February where teams are practicing but not playing games in Lee County. Spring training activities are an important draw in influencing travelers to choose to visit Lee County. More than half of those attending spring training activities came to the Fort Myers area for the primary purpose of attending spring training (57%). An additional one in ten consider spring training to be either absolutely essential or extremely important in deciding on Lee County as a destination for their trip (11%). The expenditures of only those visitors who identify spring training as the primary reason for their trip, or that spring training is either absolutely essential or extremely important account for more than $41 million the majority of the total dollars spent by spring training attendees. The economic impact of expenditures on Lee County is substantial. As a result of the $41 million spent by those in Fort Myers because of spring training, there is a total

6 Sullivan 6 impact of 863 jobs, $21.0 million in household income, $2.3 million in local government revenue and $4.4 million in state government revenue supported by these expenditures. 5 Graphs Lee County Spring Training

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11 Sullivan 11 Overall, Red Sox and Twins game attendees in Lee County add more than $47

12 Sullivan 12 million to the Lee County economy. Both those attending Red Sox games and those attending Twins games provide positive contributions to the Lee County economy, with Red Sox attendees accounting for nearly $24 million in expenditures vs. just over $23 million for Twins attendees. Expenditures for those attending practice only are excluded due to the lack of available daily practice attendance counts necessary for projections. Based on the research and data provided, baseball positively affects economic growth in Southwest Florida.

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