Turning orange to green, study finds Tennessee Athletics generates $618M for Knox County

Tripp Umbach study finds University of Tennessee athletics program generates $463.9 million annually in overall impact for the state of Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A new report commissioned by the University of Tennessee, identifies the economic impact of the University of Tennessee Athletics program.

According to the report issued by Tripp Umbach Tennessee Athletics supports 4,456 jobs in Knox County and 6,500 jobs in Tennessee. The program also generates $27.6 million in tax revenues, not counting ticket sales.

“The findings from this report further quantify and evidence the significant value of Tennessee Athletics to our state and local economies and communities,” said Dave Hart, Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics. “The report reflects the profound impact of Tennessee Athletics and its supporters and the figures are truly a testament to the passion of the Volunteer fan base.”

The report found 25 percent of attendees lived outside of Tennessee and 70 percent lived outside of Knox County. What’s more, each home game generates about $42 million for the state economy.

“The report validates an important assumption.” said Hart. “Tennessee Athletics provides collective benefit and tremendous contribution to businesses, governments, and individuals. Through shared commitment and sustained success, beneficiaries and stakeholders will continue to recognize these positive impacts into the foreseeable future.”

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Total economic impact from visitor spending for all Tennessee Athletics home events is $319.0 million and $447.6 million on the State of Tennessee and Knox County, respectively;
  • Total economic impact from Tennessee Athletics operational spending is $145.4 million and $120.9 million on the State of Tennessee and Knox County, respectively;
  • Total economic impact of Tennessee Athletics on select industry sectors:
    • Hotels and Motels – $64.0 million (state) and $73.9 million (local)
    • Retail-Food and Beverage – $46.2 million (state) and $30.0 million (local)
    • Limited Service Restaurants – $22.3 million (state) and $52.5 million (local);
  • Total economic impact from visitor spending for home football games on select sectors:
    • Hotels and Motels – $39.1 million (state) and $40.4 million (local)
    • Retail-Food and Beverage – $45.5 million (state) and $28.0 million (local)
    • Limited Service Restaurants – $14.6 million (state) and $30.7 million (local);
  • Nearly 22 percent of football game attendees stay at a hotel in Knox County;
  • Total economic impact from visitor spending for Men’s Basketball home games is $78.9 million and $96.3 million on the State of Tennessee and Knox County, respectively;
  • Total economic impact from visitor spending for Women’s Basketball home games is $13.3 million and $33.6 million on the State of Tennessee and Knox County, respectively;
  • Tennessee Athletics provides a large variety of intangible benefits categorized by community, business, promotion, and student life.

More: View the full report

Visit Knoxville says the economic impact study is a positive and that fans are staying longer to watch a team play.

“We work with them a lot to create pre and post experience for people who come to the game,” said Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas.

This growth goes beyond money and just one game or one season.

“It’s very important to our future because as people look to move business here or want to visit here or experience what we have, that’s a great offering that’s part of the table. That shows opportunity for you as a business to possibly capitalize and make money at different times of the year,” said Bumpas.

Local businesses are singing praises when it comes to the vols.

“Game days for football are our biggest days of the year,” said Sunspot manager Kristen Heath.

“They flock to the store Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the whole time they’re in town we’re busy,” added Lisa Burnett, owner of Nothing Too Fancy.

It’s all good news because whether it’s football, basketball, baseball or any sport, UT says fans are spending $448 million just in Knox County.

“People pregame, postgame, game-game, all of it,” said Heath.

At Sunspot on the strip, crowds and the teams they’re rooting for are big business for the restaurant.

“Sometimes we open early depending on what time the game starts, stay open late depending on when the game starts to maximize the impact just because there are so many people here,” said Heath.

Those people all needing a place to stay, like the Crowne Plaza.

“It’s so big and occurs throughout the year, even in the winter time you’ve got volleyball and basketball teams and indoor sports teams. There would be no way to replace the economic impact it has,” said General Manager Ken Knight.

He adds that the hotel is booked even when teams are playing somewhere else.

“It also kind of drives business in that it compresses the rest of the events. People don’t want to book events on football weekends, so the non-football weekends are busy as well.”

At Nothing Too Fancy near Market Square, visitors take home pieces of Knoxville.

“We really play around with orange, we play around and try and work around the licensing. This year we’re really going to be focusing on rivalry shirts, game specific anti- Kentucky, anti-Georgia, shirts like that,” said Burnett.”

The Vols are a valuable part in every business’s today and tomorrow.

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