DENVER — For five days the city of Denver will be flooded with baseball fans, athletes, and celebrities for the 2021 MLB All-Star Game.
Along with their favorite baseball jersey and a glove to catch a foul, visitors will also bring along spending money that could give Denver and the state of Colorado a much-needed economic boost after the pandemic.
When it was announced MLB All-Star Week would no longer be held in Atlanta, one of the main complaints from both Democratic and Republican Georgia lawmakers was that it would cost Georgia's workers, since they would lose revenue gained from hosting the game.
Dr. Vicki Lane, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver who is the Director of CU Denver's Sports Business Program told News5 the Denver area is expected to make $40 to $190 million in revenue from the MLB All-Star Game. She said while she doesn't know the specific models used to make this estimate, at the University of Denver analysts typically look at consumer demand, historical data, and other factors.
Dr. Lane said the economic forecast also takes into account spending on the game, activities, food, hotels, transportation, etc. She also pointed to a study by “Visit Denver”, which says on average, a visitor spending a 3-day trip in Denver would spend about $179 per day back in 2019.
There's no question revenue from MLB All-Star Week will have a direct impact on Denver, but what about an impact on a statewide level, and could places like southern Colorado see an effect?
Dr. Lane says the economic impact of All-Star Week would have a "downstream multiplier." Dr. Lane didn't list a specific number on how much Colorado Springs could earn, but she said employees that work in Denver may earn extra money from the week and could spend some of their earnings in Southern Colorado. She said that the downstream impact would continue in a cycle and therefore indirectly stimulate the economy.
According to World Population Review, El Paso County has seen a growth of over 17% since 2010. The tourism industry is the city's third-largest industry with out-of-town visitors spending an estimated $2.4 billion a year according to Visit Colorado Springs. In Summer 2020, Colorado Springs boasted one of the strongest tourism economies while other areas struggled.
“By the summer, we were running over 70 percent occupancy, which made us the number one market in the country for a couple of months,” said Doug Price, president, and CEO of Visit COS.
Price aid overall in 2020, the Colorado Springs region finished 7th nationwide in overall hotel occupancy numbers at a 54 percent average.
Despite hopes for an economic boost, not all economists agree. Victor Matheson, a professor at the College of the Holy Cross, is one of the co-authors of "Home Run or Wild Pitch?: Assessing the Economic Impact of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game." He believes the economic impact of these types of events tends to be minimal. However, he does say that 2021 might be the one exception since we're coming out of a pandemic. He said in this situation, any economic impact is a good impact at this point. He also says with the voting controversy in Georgia, Colorado gets a boost to their reputation and ends up looking like "the good guys" who saved All-Star Week.
Dr. Lane also agrees that All-Star Week puts Colorado on the map and on people's minds and that the state may see more revenues in the future since the event serves as an advertisement for the state. Dr. Lane also says compared to other cities, Denver did an overall good job coming out of the pandemic and helping restaurants and hotels "[reinvigorate] their capacity." This is also an opinion shared by Colorado Gov. Jared Polis.
“Talked to the Commissioner (of Major League Baseball) twice, (Rockies Owner) Dick Monfort several times, Mayor Hancock. And really, it was a matter of being ready. I don’t know if there were other cities ready with a quality all-star experience to move as quickly as a city or a state,” said Gov. Polis.
Right now Colorado's unemployment rate sits at 6.2 percent. Right before the pandemic in February 2020 the unemployment rate was 2.8 percent. The highest unemployment rate during the pandemic was 12.1 percent in April of 2020. This is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even though Denver is preparing to welcome tourists from all over, some of the most important visitors might be Coloradans who haven't been downtown in more than a year.
"We are inviting them to come down and see the city is open for business, that downtown is just as vibrant as it has ever been, and we want them to come and enjoy," Mayor Michael Hancock said.