By Leigh Howe

Being an Indiana girl raised on the basketball court, this time of year tends to hold a special excitement for me.  As the NCAA tournament is kicking off, I’m curious about the connection and impact that sports (recreational, collegiate, and professional) may have on economic development. 

After I read several studies, it became apparent that counting on a professional sports team to be an economic engine was probably a false hope.  Economists found very little evidence of economic impact by professional sports teams and sports facilities on economic development.  In essence, sporting events do not induce residents to increase total spending, but just alter their allocation of entertainment spending. This was stated time and time again in the studies, which measured the direct and indirect expenditures around professional sports teams and facilities.  Even the economic effect of hosting major sporting events such as the Super Bowl or other championships is minimal. 

The pride, unity and sense of community that is generated from sports may make the most important impact, along with the media coverage that comes with hosting major sporting events.  While difficult to back up with hard numbers, it seems that the availability of sporting events are directly related to a favorable quality-of-life feeling and a touting of “world-class” city status.  This improved quality of life and perception may result in attracting other businesses to the area. 

We would welcome your feedback or opinion on the topic.  Please feel free to email ( with any comments or if you just want to talk some trash about which basketball team is likely to win in April.  Go Michigan State!