The wrap-up analysis of the economic impact of the NCAA’s Final Four at U.S. Bank Stadium came in Tuesday at $143 million, about what was predicted before the event.
That’s the boost to the Minneapolis economy as determined by Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics. The group also did the same calculations for the 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis, putting that number at $370 million.
The Final Four’s local organizing committee is closing up shop this week, about 4½ years after the NCAA awarded the tournament to Minneapolis. At the time, organizers estimated that the economic impact could run from $70 million to $200 million.
While such analyses have come to be expected before and after such massive events, they are considered suspect by many economists and detractors. Both the Super Bowl and the Final Four occurred at U.S. Bank Stadium, which was built for $1.1 billion at a cost to taxpayers of almost $500 million.
The tally on tax revenue brought in during the Final Four was $23 million, identical to what Rockport had predicted.
The Final Four cost the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA), the public body that oversees the stadium, almost $7 million in operating costs. The authority also had to purchase blackout curtains for the Final Four, which will continue to be used for events, for about $5 million. The host committee reimbursed almost $2 million of that cost before the event.
The local organizing committee also announced Tuesday that it would provide an additional $1 million to the MSFA to defray costs. Spokeswoman Maggie Habashy attributed the extra cash to solid fundraising and lean operations.
Benefits real and intangible
Final Four visitors spent $115 million on hotels, restaurants and shopping during an eight-day stretch. The report said hotels averaged a 25% increase in room demand over the 5-year average during the same stretch.
The report also noted other benefits that don’t involve numbers: global media exposure, increased interest in the region for future events and meetings, and general civic pride.
Before the event, Final Four CEO Kate Mortenson talked about other, longer-range effects. The major legacy was the rehabilitation and refurbishing of a historic basketball gym at the North Commons Park community center in north Minneapolis.
In its Final Four projections made last year, Rockport estimated the Twin Cities would see 94,000 visitors. The final report said that 91,000 came to Minneapolis for the event. A visitor is defined as someone who comes from more than 50 miles away or stays in a hotel.
The daily spending of each visitor was about $330 during an average stay of 3.4 days, Rockport said. That was down from the pre-event estimate of $386.
The Final Four occurred April 6-8, but events started a day before the games between Texas Tech University and Michigan State University, and the University of Virginia and Auburn University. Virginia won the championship game, defeating Texas Tech.
Rockport found $20 million in displaced tourism, the amount of regular tourism crowded out by the Final Four, and subtracted that amount from gross Final Four local spending. The amount of displaced tourism was down from $35 million in the pre-event projections. Rockport said the displacement was lower because of a combination of fewer Final Four visitors and more hotel rooms available overall.
Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson