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Moving to Pac-12 totally worth it, university report says

Published February 29, 2012 4:18 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Everybody expected the Utah Utes would benefit in many ways from joining the Pac-12 Conference last season, and now an economic report proves it.

The "economic impact" of football increased by 60 percent last season, according to a university report released Wednesday, which included 210 jobs and about $515,000 in state tax revenues. The number of out-of-state fans attending football games at Rice-Eccles Stadium more than doubled, the report said.

"Joining the Pac-12 has resulted in great benefits for the state of Utah," said David Rudd, dean of the university's College of Social and Behavioral Science. "Visitors spent $5.5 million during the five Pac-12 home games last season. Not only did they spend money here, they are more likely to return to our state. Being part of the Pac-12 is a significant boost to our state's economy."

The report was compiled by the university's Center for Public Policy & Administration and the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

An average of 1,272 out-of-state fans attended football games last season, the report said, more than double the average of 546 over the previous six seasons. Researchers polled 321 of those fans about their spending habits while in Utah and their likelihood of returning, to help reach their conclusions.

Spending per day ranged from $186 for Colorado fans to $295 for Oregon State fans — a strong majority of 73 percent of first-time visitors said they were more likely to return to Utah for reasons other than a football game — which led researchers to estimate that out-of-state fans spent $5.5 million on goods and services in Utah last football season.

Of course, the state collected taxes from that, and from the increased television revenue the Utes will receive as a Pac-12 member.

The Utes were expected to receive $3 million during their first season in the Pac-12, the report said, increasing to $15 million by 2015. That will commensurately increase the taxes the state collects, too, further increasing the economic impact.

"Direct spending is just one part of the economic equation," says research analyst Michael Hogue, who conducted the study. "Visitors' spending and revenue from TV also generates multiple indirect benefits including the support of numerous jobs, earnings and new tax revenues."

A copy of the complete report: "The Move to Pac-12: Economic Impact and Visitor Experience of University of Utah Football" can be obtained at http://www.cppa.utah.edu.

— Michael C. Lewis