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Costumes, Candy and Cash: Halloween Events Bringing Economic Impact

16 Oct, 2019

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Halloween lands on a Thursday this year. For kids, that’s a grave problem (see what we did there?) since they have to go to school the next day – but for sports planners, it’s an opportunity to choose between two great weekends – one before and one after the holiday – to generate plenty of economic impact. Either way, the forecast is good, with plenty of treats in store for those who market correctly.

The National Retail Federation is predicting that Halloween spending will hit almost $9 billion in the U.S., with shopper expecting to spend more than $86 per person. Something new this season – which should interest event owners and rights holders – is that many who plan to celebrate Halloween are using the Internet for inspiration.

“Spending hasn’t changed much over the past few years, but we are seeing a noticeable increase in consumers whose Halloween purchases are inspired by their friends, neighbors and even celebrities on social media,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

Half of all adults who celebrate Halloween will do so in costume, meaning the days of staying home and answering the door are over. And if a sports event can tie into the theme and give them a reason to show up in their spooky best, they’ll turn out in force. And that means increase economic impact for sports planners. Look for an uptick in super heroes (Avengers, assemble)

Already, plenty of events are out there, proving this point. Running in the USA, which tracks various foot races throughout the U.S., has recorded an inordinate number of races (upwards of 800, at last check) on Saturday, October 26 and on Saturday, November 2. Most 5Ks include key words such as Halloween, Ghoul, Spook, Haunted, Pumpkin, Zombie, Ghost and similar terms.

Plenty of other sports also capitalize on the Halloween trend. The Halloween Baseball Monster Bash at Coastal Florida Sports Park not only has pool play guaranteeing four games per team but it hosts costume contests. Other tournaments make no mention of costumes but do provide tie-ins, such as soccer’s Halloween Candy Cup in New York and in Pennsylvania, the Halloween Howl Mite Tournament.

 Racquetball hosts the Ghostly Classic in Herndon, Virginia. Pickleball has its Halloween Smash (complete with costume contests) in Williamsburg, Virginia (it’s far from the only seasonal tournament, though) and even Atlanta’s Halloween Kubb tournament (come dressed as a Viking).

In addition to a Halloween filled with everyone from the Marvel and DC Comics universe, expect movies to play a huge role. The debut of It Chapter Two will inspire plenty of Pennywise wannabes (there’s even a whole Creepy Clown 3.33 race in, of all places, Salem, Massachusetts).

A year ago, zombies couldn’t be stopped, and there were plenty of undead-themed obstacle races in all states, all weekend long. These days, the zombies appear to be on the wane, with only the Zombie Mud Run consistently hosting events.

But making up for that is the uptick of costumed pets – nearly 29 million people were planning to dress their pets, with the top costumes being pumpkins, hot dogs and yes, superheroes. (So if you’re holding a Halloween 5K – or any other sports event with a Halloween theme – and you can find a costume category for Fluffy, you’re likely to take an even bigger bite of the holiday pie.)

In Quebec, the Midtown Tennis Club has announced its Halloween Tennis Tournament, with themed on-court activities, games, and competition. However, nobody’s getting too carried away; a tweet from the club notes, “Watch Jenny Maloney, Registered Dietitian at @Midtown_Chi , on Fox 32 Chicago this week talking about sugar intake: https://t.co/qTZibh1YFu.”

As the ghosts would say: boo.

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