Will Final Four hoops deliver a big bounce to Minneapolis?

Confetti meets the NCAA logo
Confetti is seen on the NCAA logo after the National Championship Game in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Ronald Martinez | Getty Images 2012

How much of an economic boost will the Twin Cities get from the men's college basketball championship in Minneapolis next year at U.S. Bank Stadium? That depends on whom you ask.

According to a study commissioned by the host committee for the games, the 2019 NCAA Men's Final Four will provide a big bounce in local spending. But economists say such projections are typically greatly inflated.

Rockport Analytics, the consulting firm hired by the host committee, said the college basketball championship games will generate $142 million in net new income for hotels, restaurants and other Twin Cities businesses and workers.

"We're just literally focused on the income in the local economy that'll be generated by hosting the event," said Rockport managing director Kenneth McGill.

The firm's study did not consider any hosting costs. But University of Minnesota economist Art Rolnick said those costs are needed for an accurate analysis of the event's economic benefit.

"You don't just look at spending," he said. "To get the answer to this, you've got to look at what are the costs. You look at spending minus costs."

Economists say sports event economic impact studies commissioned by host committees exaggerate financial benefits.

"Take whatever number a consulting firm like Rockport says, move the decimal point one place to the left and that's a pretty good estimate of the amount of money that's actually going to wind up in Minnesotans' pockets," said Victor Matheson, a sports economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts.

Rockport had estimated that the Super Bowl Minneapolis hosted earlier this year would bring $338 million in increased spending to the region. The company says it is assessing how accurate its estimate was.

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