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A new study reveals the impact of sporting events in Pennsylvania

State College, Penn.Under the banner of the Happy Valley Sports & Entertainment Alliance, The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau (HVAB) and Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics today released the results of a long-awaited study measuring the economic impact of sporting events in Center County.

Sporting events keep the Happy Valley sector strong by supporting numerous jobs.

Following the fall 2021 announcement of the HVAB mandate by the Happy Valley Sports & Entertainment Commission (now known as the Alliance), a study by Econsult Solutions, Inc. determined the total impact of sporting events and related activities.

Findings? Sporting events generate nearly $417 million in economic impact annually in Center County, supporting 4,315 jobs and $133 million in employee wages. The state impact of Happy Valley sporting events is $467 million.

“We knew going into the study that sports were a huge driver in our local economy,” said HVAB CEO Fritz Smith. “But we wanted to match that impact as a foundation for the Happy Valley Sports & Entertainment Alliance as it continues to grow the sports and entertainment sector.”

Philadelphia-based Econsult Solutions, Inc. conducted the study using industry-standard economic modeling techniques to estimate the direct and indirect economic activity generated by sporting events in Center County, including Penn State University Athletics.

The study found that Penn State home football games generate $87 million in visitor spending each year and account for about 890,500 of Center County’s 1.7 million annual attendance at sporting events.

Other Penn State Athletic events draw approximately 666,500 attendees and countywide sporting events nearly 150,000 to Happy Valley.

Spending by attendees at sporting events had a total economic impact of $149 million to the county, and spending by attendees at sporting events is estimated to be $102 million annually. Of that amount, $17 million in economic impact comes from spending by visitors to off-campus events.

In addition to the significant financial impacts of sporting events, the study found ancillary benefits of sports tourism including, but not limited to, revenue generation and image building from licensing and marketing; media exposure; and destination awareness and repeat visitation.

“It is fantastic that we now have clear data to assess the impact of sporting events in Happy Valley. We know there are huge opportunities to grow this impact. We have first-class facilities. We have a desirable, recognizable destination,” HVSEA President Joe Battista said.

Battista said the Alliance is ready to roll up its sleeves and get to work strengthening Happy Valley’s reputation as a premier destination for sporting and entertainment events.

“We are excited to partner with the Happy Valley Sports & Entertainment Alliance, which has strong roots in our community,” added Penn State University Chancellor Dr. Neeli Bendapudi. “Center County’s economic development continues to grow each year and is a critical part of Happy Valley’s success for our future.

“The university has a significant economic impact on Happy Valley and the state of Pennsylvania, and sports and entertainment play a significant role in our economy,” he continued. “We look forward to working with the Happy Valley Sports & Entertainment Alliance and our community partners to improve opportunities to bring visitors to our community year-round.”

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