The Economic Impact Of Sports And Sporting Events On The Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Economy

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John E. Connaughton
Caroline Swartz


Charlotte, Sports Economics, Regional Economics, Economic Impact


The sports economy in the Charlotte MSA has grown dramatically in the past twenty-five years. In 1980, attendance was less than 500,000 and total revenue was less than $15 million. In 2011, Charlotte hosted a National Basketball team, a National Football team, two major NASCAR Cup events, several college teams, and a number of other important events. This study calculated the economic impact of sports and sports events in the Charlotte MSA in 2011.

NAICS data cannot be readily recast to isolate the sports industry, so this study used primary and secondary data. The data were divided into four categories:

  • Professional and College Sports Teams
  • Special Events (PGA, NASCAR, etc.)
  • Major Amateur and Youth Events (including TEAM Charlotte Swimming, BASS/ESPN Outdoors)
  • Sports Video and Media Productions

Once data on the direct output from sporting activities are assembled, the IMPLAN 382 by 382 multiplier matrix was used to calculate the indirect effects and the induced effects of the sporting activities and the employment supported by the estimated economic activity.

In 2011, sports and sporting events contributed over $1 billion directly to the regional economy and a total of more than $2 billion when indirect and induced effects are considered. The direct effect amounts to 0.7 percent of the MSA GDP and the total effect is 1.7 percent. This economic contribution supports nearly 14,000 jobs directly and more than 23,000 when indirect and induced effects are taken into account. This corresponds to 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent of total employment, respectively.


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