Sports Positively Impact Atlanta Economy

Sports in metro Atlanta have become a multi-million dollar industry; whether its professional, college or recreational leagues for young people, the buzz surrounding athletics is booming and continues to create an excitement in the air and put money back into this area’s economy. “The sports industry positively affects quality of life for citizens living in Atlanta,” says Dan Corso, executive director of the Atlanta Sports Council. “Sports provide an economic boost for the city and remain a key revenue-generator within the tourism industry.”

Corso says that the economic impact from events will generate millions of dollars into the local economy. “The sales tax on those goods and services, or direct government revenue, will also bring in several million dollars,” Corso adds. “Exposure-wise, all of the media in town to cover the games and events will showcase our city for several days. That type of positive national and international visibility for the city is the best ad campaign around. It’s invaluable. And just as important, sports adds yet another strong quality of life attribute for our nearly six million residents.”

For nearly 30 years the Atlanta Sports Council, as part of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, has played a prominent role in bidding on sporting events. Atlanta has been fortunate to host nearly all major sporting events, beginning in 1996 with the Centennial Olympic Games. “Our resume includes Super Bowls, Final Fours, All-Star Games and conference football and basketball championships, to name a few,” Corso says.

He adds that this region was built to host sporting events and teams of all size and that very few cities nationwide can compete with Atlanta. “We have the world’s busiest and most accessible airport, while three major U.S. interstates converge in downtown Atlanta, providing easy regional access to facilities,” Corso says. “Metro Atlanta has more than 92,000 hotel rooms, with more than 16,000 of them located downtown within blocks of our centrally located first-class facilities. There is plenty to do in our region for sporting fans at state-of-the-art facilities that can be found in Cobb, Gwinnett and Bartow counties.”

The most recent example of why metro Atlanta is perfect for sports was the opening of the College Football Hall of Fame this past August. Founded by the National Football Foundation, this new 94,000-square-foot cutting-edge facility was moved from South Bend, Indiana, to Atlanta. John Stephenson, CEO and president of the Hall of Fame, says that representatives from Atlanta, including himself, were contacted early on when the foundation was looking to relocate the facility. “Them seeking us out is a testament to Atlanta’s reputation around the country,” Stephenson says. “Their board just decided this was a great place for it because it’s easy to get to Atlanta from everywhere. A lot of people live here and even though we live in the Southeast where college football is at its best … there are lots of college football fans from all over who relocate here.”

Stephenson adds that he believes Atlanta is a great fit because of its location and easy accessibility to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. “It’s for kids on fall break, guys taking an afternoon off work, the business traveler who wants to skip a session at their convention, the person who has a layover, out-of-town visitors and of course, college football fans,” Stephenson says. “It’s just another piece of evidence about how great a city that Atlanta is, not only for the people who visit here, but those who live here. I look at us as just another way Atlanta is proving itself to be a great place to live and visit.”

From professional baseball, football and basketball to million dollar complexes just outside of the city, the Atlanta area has it all when it comes to sports and it only continues to get better. For example, both the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons are currently undergoing new construction for their organizations. Specifically, the Braves new stadium, SunTrust Park, will welcome new fans to its Cobb County location in April 2017, and the economic benefits from the new stadium will ripple throughout the region. Annual earnings alone for the more than 3,000 employees needed to staff the Braves organization will total $35.8 million; and visiting spending, resulting in 873 jobs, will provide $25 million in earnings.

“The Braves are so identifiable with Atlanta and in many ways we are a reflection of this area of the country,” says Derek Schiller, executive vice president of sales and marketing with the organization. “We have a diverse and loyal fan base that is very much like Atlanta. Our games help connect people of all different ages and backgrounds as they come together to celebrate as one. Baseball is such a part of Americana and the Braves have such a strong bond with this community. We take that role very seriously and do our best to use the emotional connection to the Braves to make a difference. Given our connection to the community, we have found that when people think about Atlanta, they also think about the Braves.”

Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin says sports lovers are drawn to attend professional sporting events like theirs and others in the area because they consistently have successful teams in professional and collegiate athletics. In addition to the Braves, Hawks and Falcons, metro Atlanta is also home to professional teams like the Gwinnett Braves and Gwinnett Gladiators and top-ranked collegiate programs at Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and most recently, Kennesaw State University just north of Downtown started a football program. “People from all over the world can come to the Atlanta area and watch basketball, baseball and football played at the highest level possible,” he says. “Speaking specifically about the Hawks, our team has been in the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons. That’s the longest streak in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, so basketball lovers know they will see high-quality action on the floor when they come to an Atlanta Hawks game.”

Koonin adds that sports in a community is generally just good for bringing people together. Joseph Dennis, general manager at The Arena at Gwinnett Center agrees. “Sports are a big part of Gwinnett County, so most kids grow up either playing or watching some form of a sport,” he says. “Gwinnett and the metro Atlanta area are also made up of residents from all over the country, so there are a wide range of sports fans within the community.” Aside from being home to the Gwinnett Gladiators, The Arena is also hosted the Southeastern Conference’s Gymnastics and Women’s Basketball championships, Georgia High School Association basketball and wrestling championships, PowerShares Series Tennis, the Forrest Wood Cup and the Harlem Globetrotters.

It’s not just all about professional and collegiate sports, though. LakePoint Sporting Community, located off Interstate 75 in Emerson, Georgia, and just 30 minutes north of Atlanta, is on track to be one of the world’s largest and most unique destinations for travel sports. With more than 1,300 acres nestled in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains and adjacent to beautiful Lake Allatoona, LakePoint will feature state-of-the-art sports venues and 5 million square feet of amenities, including on-site hotels, restaurants, themed retail, bowling, ziplines, water parks and more. “The benefits are seeing the culmination of the dream of my partners and myself to create the ultimate sports tourism destination and to also create a place to make the world of youth sports a safer and better place,” says LakePoint CEO and Georgia State Rep. Earl Ehrhart. “This location was chosen for its proximity to the metro area, its great location on a major interstate and the communities.”

A study by Georgia Tech estimates approximately six million people will visit LakePoint, generating about $520 million annually in revenues. Additionally, this shows that the development could result in $20 million in tax revenues and the state garnering $50 million each year. In addition, 26,000 jobs are being generated by the project and 12,000 people will work at LakePoint when completed.

So, whether you’re looking to catch a professional football game on a Monday night, college soccer tournament on the weekend or taking your children to a Little League event during the week, metro Atlanta has all of that and more. Go team go!