In KC, Royal Blue is more Important than Green
by Jeff Pinkerton
In recent weeks we have been asked about the economic impact of the Royals’ remarkable playoff run. The “K” has been packed to capacity and bars and restaurants are overflowing with Royals fans, so there has to be a boost to the regional economy, right?
Well, yes, you’re probably right, but maybe not to the extent you might think. Economic impact studies are often cited to justify major civic expenses to attract an event. Kansas City recently went through this with the Republican National Convention. Millions of dollars were spent, and millions of more dollars would have poured into our economy had we won the convention, bringing tens of thousands of visitors who would spend money on hotels, dining and other entertainment. The key word here is visitors. With a national convention or a national sporting event like the Super Bowl, the vast majority of the people in attendance would be from out of town, bringing net new money into the city.
The vast majority of the people you’ve seen in the crowds at Royals playoff games are likely from somewhere in the Kansas City metro area. They didn’t bring in net new money into the region. They just chose to spend disposable income on those Royals tickets instead of somewhere else around town. Maybe you couldn’t find a seat at Kauffman Stadium or your local sports bar during the games, but we imagine there were empty seats aplenty at any movie theater in town. During this playoff run we are rearranging our spending habits, but we are not really generating new economic impact.
Yes, there are hundreds and maybe even thousands of people who have visited Kansas City for the games who would not have come otherwise, and that does bring some net new money, but it is not likely to be enough to have a significant economic impact.
The REAL impact of this Royals playoff run is different and is probably incalculable. These home games broadcast on national television have essentially acted as a three-hour (or in some cases a five-hour) commercial for our community. People around the world are tuning in and seeing a great scene — 40,000-plus fans having the time of their lives celebrating series-clinching victories. Coming back from commercial breaks, viewers see spectacular views of our home town. The Royals have put Kansas City top of mind for millions of people. Marketers spend millions of dollars to have that kind of impact.
It seems nothing brings a city together more than successful sports teams. Beyond economics, the positive vibe Kansas City is experiencing is real and hopefully it will extend all the way to the victory parade and beyond!