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Saturday Halloween: The Sports Event Planner’s Dream

7 Oct, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
When Economic Impact Comes in the Costume of a Pop Culture Holiday, Expect Big Returns

Cue the arrival of spectators and athletes dressed as Maleficent, as Sepp Blatter, as the Walking Dead, as Donald Trump’s hair – oh, the possibilities are simply endless. Halloween lands on a Saturday this year. Rather than backing away from the date out of superstition (or out of a fear of having to compete with family activities), sports events are embracing it and finding new and creative ways to recruit attendees.

With Halloween comes the chance for people to relive their childhood. Every year, everyone from sportscasters to fans get into the spirit. This year, just expect, well, more of that. After all, Halloween is an industry unto itself, and this year, it’s expected to hit $7.4 billion, thanks to its weekend arrival, according to CBSNews. Expect a sizeable portion of that to be dropped on parties that combine sports and the Halloween festivities.

Those who travel to attend Saturday college football tailgates, for example, are ready for a celebration and teams are ready to oblige. Texas A&M will unveil its special Halloween-only unis in College Station when it plays South Carolina on that day. It’s a pretty safe bet that replicas of those jerseys will be hot sellers, as will ‘best dressed’ contests for tailgaters who come in costume. And with a full schedule of college football that day, it’s far from the only celebrations that will be going on.

Google any word combination that includes ‘Halloween 5K 2015’ and you’ll come across literally hundreds of races where registrants are encouraged to come in costume. And in most cases, organizers view it as a chance to harness some positive energy. After all, parents often find kids – particularly young’uns – to be restless throughout the day on Halloween. This is one way of tamping down that energy until the trick-or-treat or party hours arrive.

And don't think the obstacle race community hasn't gotten into it. West Virginia's ACE ADVENTURES Resort will host the Zombie Run on Halloween Day.

Sometimes, however, the date is something that organizers couldn’t avoid, but are trying to use to their advantage. The Philadelphia Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon was rescheduled to Halloween Day after it was revealed the original date would conflict with Pope Francis’ visit to the city. Event organizers, who were  scrambling to try to recoup some of the estimated $15 million that comes into the region when the marathon is held on its regular date (late September), are counting on special Halloween promotions to help make up the slack.

“With a special one-time date of October 31, the 2015 version of this historic race will be all the miles, music and medals that runners love…with a spooky twist,” read the copy on the website. "Wear your fastest race gear and set a PR or put on your Halloween costume and join in the fun of the best-dressed contest.”

Speaking of Philly and the need to move that race date: Will anyone come dressed as Pope Francis? He does like sports, particularly soccer.  (Even DC United managed to capitalize on that, getting the supreme pontiff his own personalized jersey during his recent visit to the District.)

If there are any people who are planning to ignore the holiday, they are few and far between. A recent poll showed that come Saturday, sports fans will plan to watch their choice of game with the remote in one hand and the candy bowl in the other, so that they’ll be ready if visitors come to the door – without missing a break in the action.

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