2019 College Football Championship Will Bring Visibility and Economic Boost to Santa Clara and Region

By Carolyn Schuk

Two years ago Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium was selected to host the 2019 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, the fifth CFP national championship game. Last month the Bay Area CFP host committee opened its doors in downtown San José to kick off the countdown to game day, Jan.7, 2019.

Like the Super Bowl, the event will be one of many local activities including the Extra Yards For Teachers, Playoff Fan Central, AT&T Playoff Playlist Live, and Championship Tailgate Plaza.

“It’s a good combination,” said Patricia Ernstrom 49ers Special Events VP and Host Committee Executive Director. “The fifth CFP national championship and the fifth year of Levi’s Stadium operations.

“The atmosphere around college football has a special energy and presents an incredible opportunity for our community,” she continued. “It’s more than just a football game. It’s a celebration of decades of college football tradition and pageantry, which is unlike any other sporting event—featuring marching bands, mascots, cheerleaders and passionate fans, who transcend social boundaries. On any given college football Saturday, anything can happen, any team can win.”

Only stadiums with capacities of at least 65,000 can bid to host the game, and the criteria for bid acceptance is high, according to 49ers COO Al Guido. “We couldn’t be more proud for Levi’s Stadium to be selected as the host of the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2019,” he said in a press statement, “especially considering the outstanding competition we faced from the eight other host communities.”

“Almost 60 percent of Santa Clara voted for Levi’s Stadium for the economic development it would bring,” said Santa Clara Council Member Dominic Caserta. “And we’re seeing this happening with high quality events like the College Football Playoffs. It’s creating a virtuous circle of money flowing into Santa Clara. This is a great opportunity for our City.”

The 2018 game on ESPN had an estimated 27 million viewers, and although that doesn’t directly translate into revenue, the national visibility for Santa Clara will certainly enhance the City’s national profile.

But what will the collegiate game mean economically?

A team at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business did a study of the economic impact of the 2016 CFP game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The study (tinyurl.com/cfp-2016-impact) pegged the economic impact at $274 million—excluding local area residents’ spending.

The event brought about 65,000 visitors the Phoenix area and they stayed on average about four nights, the study reports, spending about $450 a day. Organizational expenditures for events were $39 million. Sales tax revenue was $12 million.

In addition to direct visitor spending of $120 million, the study concludes that visitors generated almost as much in indirect economic “ripple” effects. Organizers estimated that related events in downtown Phoenix drew 200,000 people, reported AZTV 7.

The 2016 championship game topped Arizona’s previous football championship games (previously called the Bowl Championship Series), including the 2011 Auburn, Oregon game, which the Carey School’s researchers estimated generated $204 million in economic impact.

“We are thrilled that the College Football Playoff has chosen to bring the pinnacle event in college sports to Silicon Valley,” San José Mayor Sam Liccardo in a press statement.

“There is no better place in the country to host premier sports events like the College Football Playoff championship game. We look forward to welcoming college football fans to enjoy San José’s first-class hotels, restaurants and amenities, and enjoy the wide array of events we’ll be hosting throughout the city.”

Although many of the CFP events won’t be held in Santa Clara, that in itself may be a benefit, as the researchers from Arizona State explain in an analysis of the impact of the 2015 Super Bowl on Glendale, Arizona.

“Because those events …also require governmental services to be provided by the host community [they] would presumably create a proportionately increased cost. Second, the events themselves do not generate revenue for the host community. The revenue generation comes from ancillary spending (bars, restaurants, retail, etc.). Given these factors, the better scenario for Glendale was exactly what occurred, the hosting of privately produced events that attracted visitors without adding additional costs.”