Attendance, prices drop in L.A. sports

Updated: June 8, 2010, 2:13 AM ET
By Ramona Shelburne | ESPNLosAngeles.com

The economic impact of the sporting events industry in Los Angeles and Orange County fell by 18 percent in 2009 from 2007 levels according to the biannual Economic Impact of Sports study sponsored by the L.A. Sports Council and L.A. Area chamber of Commerce.

The majority of decline from the previous study is most notably attributed to three factors: Significant declines in part-time employment numbers (a decrease of 39%); a 16 percent decline in annual attendance numbers; and a drop in the average ticket price.

"Like most other industries, sports has seen its revenue and attendance impacted by the economy," said Alan Rothenberg, chairman of the Sports Council. "However, this study shows that even as people are making tough decisions about where to spend their money, they're still invested in the sports industry."

The study, conducted by MBA graduate students at UCLA's Andersen School of Management, analyzed confidential financial data from 55 local sports organizations (excluding high school sports and certain special one-time events).

The study included professional franchises, sports venues, horse racing tracks, major colleges and universities, as well as annual recurring events such as the L.A. Marathon, the Long Beach Grand Prix, and the Rose Bowl Game.

Sports pumped $1.7 billion directly into the local economy last year, which resulted in a $4.2 billion impact. In 2007, while Los Angeles was still enjoying record economic gains, sports contributed $2.1 billion directly into the economy. This year's figure, while lower by 18 percent, is in line with 2005 figures ($2.1 million).

Due to its conservative nature, the study examined only the sporting events industry and does not attempt to capture sports-driven revenues from visitors' travel expenditures (i.e. hotel, restaurant, car rental), retail merchandising, secondary ticket sales, and merchandise manufacturing.

Based on media reports, the three highest paid attendances at single-day sporting events in 2009 were the Rose Bowl Game (93,293), the L.A. Galaxy vs. Barcelona soccer match, also at the Rose Bowl (93,137), and the USC vs. Stanford football game at the Coliseum (90,071). Other top events were Chelsea vs. Inter Milan soccer at the Rose Bowl (81,224) and the Auto Club 500 stock car race (est. 78,000) at the Auto Club Speedway.

Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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