WASHINGTON — While MLB fans will have stars in their eyes at next year’s Midsummer Classic at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., officials have dollar signs in theirs. Big ones.
Brian Kenner, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, cited an MLB study on the local economic impact of the last 10 Major League All-Star games. For a city of its size, Kenner believes that D.C. could see an economic windfall of at least $70 million.
“Some of the more urban, larger cities have seen impacts even north of that,” Kenner said. “This just continues a theme that D.C. is good for international caliber sporting events.”
Economic impact studies are notoriously subjective, based on what entity is conducting the survey. Sports leagues and teams have an incentive to look for the largest numbers possible in order to justify stadium construction and tax incentives.
That’s not to say that the figures are inflated or made up, but the factors considered may favor the positive impacts and not account for any negative economic impacts of bringing more people to the city in a given week.
Regardless, the game has been valuable for cities in recent years. Last year in San Diego, MLB anticipated drawing a crowd of 250,000 fans to participate in some facet of the weeklong festivities, both with sanctioned MLB and non-sanctioned events. Of those, roughly one-quarter are from outside of the area.
Regardless of how much a locality spends on hosting an event like this, it is a lock to come out on top.
“Having a huge pro-sporting event like the MLB All-Star Game clearly impacts the tourism and hospitality industries,” said Carol Roth, a small business expert. “With the freelance economy being an important addition to the entrepreneurial landscape, people who rent their properties through entities like AirBNB and who drive for entities like Uber should derive financial benefits as well,” she added.
“The financial benefits of the MLB All-Star game also spill over to local restaurants and retailers as well, which is not just a one-and-done benefit for these small business owners.”
This is the first MLB All-Star Game held at Nationals Park but is the fourth overall hosted by the city, the first since the Senators hosted at RFK Stadium in 1969.