Economist: Razorback Football Record Impacts Regional Tourism

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) —  A lousy win-loss football record not only hurts Razorback fan morale, but it stings area businesses to the tune of nearly $1 million, according to a University of Arkansas economist.

“We actually found some measurable differences in people’s spending based on how well the team was doing,” said Mervin Jebaraj, an economist at the UA’s Walton College of Business.

Jebaraj said the Walton College of Business conducted a study of then-Coach Bobby Petrino’s final full season (2011) at the university in which the football team finished with an 11-2 record. It also studied recently fired Coach Bret Bielema’s third season (2014) on the hill when the Razorbacks finished 8-5.

Jebaraj said that somewhere between 68-72% of fans come from outside of Northwest Arkansas and spent on average about $100 per game in 2011 compared to roughly $80 per game in 2014. 40,000 fans equaled about $4 million in local spending in the good year compared to $3.2 million in a mediocre year.

“So you’re looking at almost a million dollars difference depending on how well the team was doing in terms of how much fans spent. You know, that’s fairly evident. So if the team’s doing well, people like to spend more money. And of course attendance, if it goes down, that results in less money,” Jebaraj said.

“So a poor season has an effect in several different ways. One, is that they move the games out of prime time, so it’s not an evening game or a late afternoon game, which means the fans are less likely to go out to Dickson Street at 11 in the morning when the game starts at 11 in the morning. Not that some don’t, but they’re less likely to do so,” he said.

To see Jebaraj’s full interview, visit Arkansas Talk Business & Politics.