Counting the Cost of Cancelling the Grizzly Football Season
News that the Big Sky Conference has officially canceled the fall football season hit the Missoula and western Montana business community hard, in that the economic impact is normally in the millions of dollars per home game.
Director of the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research Patrick Barkey recalled a study his agency prepared in 2017.
“We did a special emphasis on football,” said Barkey. “Griz football visitor spending we saw amounted to about two and a half million dollars per game. So that's spending of the visitors to Missoula. And of course, that's a large fraction of people who attend games as well as the parties and the groups that they travel with, not all of whom sit in the stands.”
Barkey broke down where the money was spent in the Missoula business community.
“Well, it doesn't include air travel, but it does include gasoline, the accommodations, entertainment, food, health care, merchandise, everything. Everything they spend on and that was based on a survey that we did of season ticket holders for that 2017 study.”
Barkey separated two aspects of the visitor spending on Grizzly games.
“There's two things about Griz games that have an impact,” he said. “The first is the proportion of people who come from outside the area, and then the income profile of the kind of person who travels a distance to see Games has a different kind of spending profile in your average visit.”
The fall schedule just cancelled this week included five home games, not including potential playoff games. At $2.5 million per game, the loss of the season carries a possible impact of $12.5 million.
If spring games can be played, the economic impact will be considerably lessened.