The Economic Impact of Arizona’s Sports & Tourism Sector

Article originally posted on HERE on February 14, 2023

Summary & Key Findings

The Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority estimated the impact of hosting the Super Bowl in 2015 to be $719.4 million[i]. By all accounts, the upcoming 2023 event should be even larger. The entire sector of sports and tourism in Arizona, however, adds billions of dollars and thousands of jobs annually and independent of major events like the Super Bowl. This brief will give an overview of the impact the whole sports and tourism sector has on Arizona’s economy throughout the year and its prospects for future growth.

  • $24.2 billion: Contribution of the sports and tourism sector to Arizona’s Real Gross Domestic Product in 2022 (6.4% of the state’s economy).
  • $13.7 billion: Direct sales by Arizona’s hotels, casinos, performance venues, and other components of the state’s sports & tourism sector in 2022.
  • 347,500: Number of people directly and indirectly employed by Arizona’s sports and tourism sector, or 11% of the state’s total workforce.
  • 3.0%: Projected average annual growth rate of the sector over the next decade.

Sports and tourism, as a sector composed of various shares of NAICS classification industries, is no small share of the Arizona economy, and recognizing the impact of these industries can help encourage the adoption of public policy that enables the continued growth and development of this area.

About the Sports & Tourism Sector

Our moderate climate and numerous attractions have made it a magnate tourism destination and made its sports and tourism sector historically important to Arizona’s economy. The state has 15 professional sports teams (including four major league teams), 32 state parks, and 24 national parks (including the Grand Canyon). Arizona can host large sporting events year-round and has unique state and national parks for hiking and camping, the climate for state-of-the-art year-round golf courses, and numerous other attractions, which puts us in a strong position for a successful sports and tourism sector. CSI includes industries such as scenic transportation, performing arts, spectator sports, recreation, gambling, and accommodations in our definition of the sports and tourism sector because it encompasses such a wide array of economic activity.

While this sector had a decreased output due to the Covid pandemic in 2020, most of industries that make up the sports and tourism sector were among the top 10 fastest growing industries in 2022. The 2023 Super Bowl – the state’s fourth since 1996 – in Glendale is likely to ensure this sector remains a prominent performer this year.

CSI estimates that the sports and tourism sector directly employed 167,000 workers in 2022, and indirectly supports another 181,000 jobs. The sports and tourism sector is relatively larger in Arizona than in the average US state. Also of note is the sectors relative importance to rural Arizona: over 16% of the state’s sports and tourism employment is outside of the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas, versus only about 12% of the states workforce overall. For perspective, about 17% of the state’s population lives in rural areas.

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