Report: UW-W athletics brings in $2.7 million a year for communities
The Fiscal and Economic Research Center at UW-Whitewater estimates at least $2.7 million flows through Walworth, Rock and Jefferson counties annually by way of the athletics department.
Russell Kashian, the center’s director, called it a conservative figure. The analysis focused mostly on the football team and record crowds that filled Perkins Stadium this year on the heels of its 2009 national championship.
The regional impact study analyzed spectator spending habits, the athletic department payroll and budgets of all 20 intercollegiate teams. For every dollar circulated through the economy by athletics, it generates about $1.45 worth of growth, according to the report.
“It tells us that there’s a hunger for athletic entertainment,” Kashian said. “My feeling is if people weren’t going to Warhawk games, they’d be finding some other entertainment vehicle. There is other things they can do, and by having a premier program in the community it retains the dollars, plus it draws some in.”
Financial stability in the three counties has been troublesome, especially in Rock County where its 9.5 percent unemployment rate is the state’s second-highest. Most municipalities are cutting their 2011 budgets to cope with sharply declining revenue.
The report estimates about 40 jobs are created in the region through UW-Whitewater athletics. It also found the average person spent more than $14 at restaurants, $7 at grocery stores, $5 for gas and $3 for hotels.
“The success of our teams has just been remarkable,” said Athletic Director Paul Plinske. “The consistent approach that our head coaches bring to our programs has allowed us to build and sustain, and now we’re getting people coming to our games from Illinois, Green Bay, Minnesota and Iowa. We’re broadening our horizons at enormous speeds.”
The university’s study focused heavily on football, because its crowds of up to 11,000 people are easier to survey than other sports. In a separate report completed during the summer of 2009, researchers estimated more than 22,400 off-campus supporters annually attended football games.
Plinske said the team set two attendance records this year during family day and homecoming. That comes after an increase in ticket prices from last year.
Kashian said taking into account attendance at other sports such as volleyball, women’s basketball and baseball, it’s likely the effect would be greater than $2.7 million.
“The UW-Whitewater athletics product is alive and well right now, and it’s exciting times for us,” Plinske said. “We hope that we can really bring value to the community of Whitewater and help this community flourish during a tough economic time.”