It is Hurricane season in Florida. And Seminole season. And it’s also the season for the Gators and Rattlers and Bulls and many others. After a long hot summer, Floridians are eagerly awaiting the return of college football.
Not only is college football great for the fans, but it is also a boon for communities and the state’s economy. College football fans visit cities across Florida from all over the state and even the country to see their favorite team play. The influx of visitors boosts the local economy, spending money on lodging, food, memorabilia and transportation in a post-summer shift in tourism.
Florida TaxWatch reported that when Florida State won their third National Championship in 2013-14 season, even bottom-tier games generated $1.5 million in economic revenue for the Tallahassee area each weekend. The top-level games generated more than $10 million per weekend. In 2012, the University of Florida football team generated close to $75 million in revenue for the school, according to the same TaxWatch report.
While there may be debate over the role of athletics in the mission of institutions of higher education, there is no denying that college football has a great impact on state and local economies with studies finding that sales tax revenue increases statewide during college football season.
And while our college teams perform with the nation’s best during the season, the success continues in December and January. Florida leads the country in the number of bowl games played in state and will be hosting the national championship this season at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Bowl games generate millions of dollars for the state in sales tax revenue and showcase our state’s spot as one of the world’s top tourist destination.
While Florida State, Miami and the University of Florida are traditional powers, the economic score is going to increase as the University of South Florida and the University of Central Florida assert themselves on the national stage. Even teams with smaller fan bases like the Florida Atlantic University Owls and the Florida International University Panthers are generating bigger crowds and more excitement.
Whether you’re a rabid fan or can’t tell a field goal from a touchdown, we are all winners this football season.
Dominic Calabro is the president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch.