Home > NewsRelease > COVID-19 Triggered Sports and Festival Cancellations Will Have Staggering Economic Impact Across the Country
COVID-19 Triggered Sports and Festival Cancellations Will Have Staggering Economic Impact Across the Country
Performance Research --  Jed Pearsall, Ed.D. Performance Research -- Jed Pearsall, Ed.D.
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Newport, RI
Wednesday, March 18, 2020


The global economic effectsof COVID-19 are taking shape: markets are plummeting, consumer spending isfalling, and countries are taking emergency measures in response to the pandemic.

While several industries arebracing for (or have already taken) a hit in the wake of the virus’ spread, theimpact on the sports and events world has been swift and particularly public.

Performance Research, theworld’s leading event and sports research agency with a specialization ineconomic impact analysis, has estimated, just from those announced in the pastweek, $6 billion in economic losses and climbing due to COVID-19 relatedmajor event cancellations and postponements in the U.S.

The agency confined theiranalysis to major, nationally recognized U.S. events including the NBA seasonsuspension, the NCAA Final Four, NCAA College WorldSeries, SXSW Conference and Festivals, the Miami Open (tennis), NFL Draft, NASCARand IndyCar races, The Kentucky Derby, and NYC’s famed Broadway Theaters, whichare just a portion of affected events. (see table below for full list of eventsincluded in this analysis).

“The economic impact ofthis pandemic within the festival, conference and sports industry – and thelocal economies that host these events – is staggering,” says Bill Doyle, Vice President of PerformanceResearch. “In addition to ticket sales and sponsorship investments, theseevents support jobs and generate revenue for local businesses by bringing inthousands – sometimes hundreds of thousands – of attendees to the host cities.”

“Yes, fans are understandablydisappointed about their favorite sports events or festivals being canceled,” says Doyle, “but the economic story here is bigger:fewer drinks are being poured at bars, hotels will have massive roomcancelations, and local businesses will suffer. This will create a rippleeffect in community economies for a long time to come.”

While Performance Research’s analysisfocused on major, nationally recognized events canceled through April, the scopeof the impact related to the events industry is of course going to be muchwider when smaller-scale festivals, as well as local professional sports and collegeconferences are considered.

And the impact will bemultiplied significantly if events are canceled further into spring and summermonths (most notably, the Summer Olympics, which is currently hanging in thebalance).

Ultimately, safety is paramount,and closing events to help slow the spread of the virus is the right thing todo. The industry, though, is in uncharted waters and should bolster itself withthe information, data and research it needs to revive itself in the coming months. 

According to Jed Pearsall,president of Performance Research, “When the pandemic is over, it will not necessarilybe business as usual in the sports and festival world. Fans may have adifferent hierarchy of values, and both event organizers and sponsors will needto assess if they are reaching fans in a genuine and authentic way. Events, leagues, and corporate partners that providemeaning and value to fans’ lives will be the first to climb out of the lossesthat COVID-19 has created.”


EventPostponed vs. CanceledEstimated/Historic Economic Impact
NBA – Regular SeasonCanceled$1,000,000,000
NASCAR – Atlanta,Miami, Texas, Bristol, RichmondPostponed$680,000,000
BNP Paribas OpenIndian Wells Tennis)Canceled$406,000,000
Coachella MusicFestivalPostponed $400,000,000
Kentucky DerbyPostponed$400,000,000
Miami Open (Tennis)Canceled$390,000,000
SXSW Conference andFestivalsCanceled$356,000,000
New York Auto ShowCanceled$330,000,000
Houston Livestock ShowCanceled$227,000,000
NFL DraftCanceled$224,000,000
Boston MarathonPostponed$211,000,000
MLB – Spring TrainingCanceled$200,000,000
NTT Indycar Series – 4racesPostponed$180,000,000
Ultra Music FestCanceled$168,000,000
Indycar – 4 racesCancelled$160,000,000
PGA Player’sChampionshipCanceled$151,000,000
PGA Valspar, WGC MatchPlay, Valero OpenCanceled$150,000,000
NCAA – Final FourCanceled$143,000,000
Broadway  Canceled $100,000,000
E3 2020 (e-Sports)Canceled$75,000,000
NCAA Men’s &Women’s College World SeriesCanceled$70,000,000
IRL Firestone GrandPrix Canceled$48,000,000
Volvo Car OpenTennis)Canceled$30,000,000
Seattle Comic ConCanceled$22,000,000
NCAA WrestlingChampionshipCanceled$15,000,000
Big 10 – Men’s TourneyCanceled$10,000,000

About Performance Research: With more than 30 years of focus and experience,Performance Research is the industry leader for worldwide consumer research andevaluation in the event, sponsorship and experiential marketing industry.

Performance Research’sexperience covers an array of quantitative, qualitative and economic impact studiesfocused on sports events and fan festivals, as well as in-depth experience withactivation testing at music and cultural festivals and pop-up brand experiences.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Tyler Patricia Arment
Title: Senior Project Director, Arts Sponsorship
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