Blog Post

Pac-12 Football is a Win for the U and Utah

By: Dianne Meppen, BS

As the University prepares for the big game with Michigan, I’m reminded of a research project I was involved in shortly after coming to work at the U – the Pac-12 Economic Impact Study.  It was the University’s second year in the conference and the purpose of the research was to gauge the economic benefits of the decision to join the Pac-12 Conference.

Braving the elements of heat, rain and snow, I worked alongside handful of trained students trying to identify visiting opposing fans they entered the stadium and interviewing them to get the needed information. Not an easy task. We asked fans where they were visiting from, about their travel and accommodations, and how much they would spend during their stay in Utah.  The information we gathered was used by our team to conduct the economic analysis.  The University’s share of the Pac-12 television revenue for the season was also included in the calculation.

The economic impact for the football season was impressive – $10.3 million.  That year the attendance for out-of-state fans in Rice-Eccles averaged over 1,000 spectators – doubling attendance for opposing fans traveling to Utah in pre-Pac-12 seasons.  Total economic impact of the football season for that year included:

  • $2.3 million spent on goods and services by out-of-state visitors
  • $8 million received in television revenue
  • 275 jobs created with earnings of over $6.6 million
  • State tax revenue of approximately $660,000

Equally impressive were visitors’ positive views of their experience.  The vast majority considered U fans to be very welcoming and two-thirds said they’d likely to return to Utah in the future and not just to watch another football game.  Half of the visiting fans weren’t familiar enough with the University to know about its academics, but it was not unusual to hear comments like “If they are in the Pac-12 they must be a high quality school.” It was interesting that many out-of-state fans said their impression of the university was more positive after coming to the game.

Though it’s been a couple of year since the analysis was conducted, the University and the state continue to benefit from the U’s membership in the Pac-12 conference and should for years to come.

I’m looking forward to a great football season – Go Utes!

Dianne Meppen is the director of survey research at The Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, specializing in client relations, establishing survey research objectives, developing research strategies, formulating concise and understandable survey instruments, overseeing survey data collection, evaluating data results, and presenting key findings and insights to survey clients.