Apparently, Cleveland is still counting the dollars brought in when the Indians hosted four World Series games in late October and early November — including a Game 7 instant classic on Nov. 2. But even though Cleveland lost to the Chicago Cubs in a battle of franchises with the longest championship droughts in baseball history, the city is still a winner.
Multiple reports suggest the World Series created an economic boon for Cleveland hotels and businesses. “In a study several years ago, a local economic-development group estimated the benefit of a postseason Indians game at roughly $3 million, accounting for direct spending, increased tax revenues and extra payroll,” according to Cleveland’s Plain Dealer. “A World Series game might have three times as great of an impact, said David Gilbert, who leads the [local] convention and visitors bureau and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.”
“It wouldn't surprise me if each World Series game generated $8 [million] to $10 million in direct spending, or more,” Gilbert told the paper. “It's hard to even throw a number at it.”
Cleveland suburbs also enjoyed a bounce from the World Series. Officials in Beachwood, for example, located about 11 miles east of the city, cited an uptick in hotel, restaurant and retail business.
“Events like [the World Series], the Republican National Convention and the Cavs’ championship series in downtown Cleveland benefit all of us in Northeast Ohio,” said Beachwood Mayor Merle S. Gorden. “Beachwood is lucky to have such a strong base of businesses — including hotels and tourism attractions — as it provides a tax base that helps to support our outstanding services.”
By contrast, early reports out of Chicago suggested that the Windy City didn’t experience the same windfall as Cleveland.
Temple University sports economist Michael Leeds told the Chicago Sun-Times that although certain sectors of Chicago’s economy might see a small bump in sales, the World Series will barely affect the economy as a whole.
Leeds said the money spent by fans for the World Series is simply redirected from other parts of the economy. Because most fans attending … games are from Chicago, the money they spend would have been spent elsewhere in the city even if the World Series wasn’t happening, he said. “You really need to look at who came to Chicago and spent money they wouldn’t have otherwise spent there,” Leeds said.
Robert Baade, an economics professor at Lake Forest (Ill.) College, added that major sporting events like the World Series don’t often result in large economic impacts. “If they pay $1,000 on a ticket, well, that’s $1,000 they won’t spend on something else,” he told the Sun-Times, adding that Cubs fans who spent money in Cleveland could offset a boost to the local Chicago economy.
Regardless of the disparities, Arizona is poised to reap financial rewards stemming from the on-field success of the Cubs and the Indians. Both teams hold spring training in the state’s Cactus League (Chicago in Mesa and Cleveland in Goodyear).
The Kansas City Royals, who won the 2015 World Series, train in Surprise, Ariz., and enjoyed an increase of nearly 1,000 more fans per game when the team returned last spring. “It was actually our highest spring training attendance,” Tara Combs, manager of sports, tourism and special events for the city of Sunrise, told The Arizona Republic. “We had a huge out-of-state crowd. … It has put Surprise on the map.”