Winning Big: Sports’ Billion-Dollar Boost to the Economy

The world of sports entertainment generates absolutely staggering amounts of economic value, and the industry continues to expand rapidly, to the tune of hundreds of billions in annual revenue.

The sports industry has exploded in recent years, becoming a multi-billion dollar economic powerhouse. From massive television broadcasting deals to lucrative sponsorship agreements, sports are big business. And that business is having a huge impact on local and national economies.

Major sporting events like the Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA Finals draw millions of viewers and generate substantial revenue. But even outside of these high-profile events, sports provide year-round economic benefits through job creation, infrastructure investment, and increased spending. Let’s explore sports’ economic windfall.

Jobs: Teams and Events Employ Thousands

Sporting events require huge workforces to make everything run smoothly. Between the teams themselves and the venues that host competitions, thousands of jobs are supported.

The Super Bowl, for example, employs over 1,000 temporary staffers just for the week leading up to the big game. Positions range from ushers to concession stand workers to setup crews getting the stadium ready. Many local residents earn extra income from taking on Super Bowl gigs.

Major events aren’t the only source of employment. Professional sports teams have robust full-time staffs covering everything from coaching and marketing to finance and analytics. The Dallas Cowboys franchise alone employs over 1,600 people, according to ZoomInfo. Factor in all major league teams across various sports, and you have tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.

Tourism: Fans Flock to Host Cities

Cities lucky enough to host major sporting events reap massive rewards when fans flock in to catch the action live. Tourism booms translate to big dollars spent locally.

When Glendale, Ariz., hosted Super Bowl XLIX in 2015, the greater Phoenix area raked in $719 million as a result. Over 120,000 visitors traveled to the region specifically for the Super Bowl, filling hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, and other attractions.

And the impact lasts beyond just the event itself. Many visitors return in later years or become fans of the local team after enjoying their Super Bowl experience.

Media: Huge Broadcasting Deals Boost Revenue

Television broadcasting contracts for major sports bring in astronomical sums that benefit teams and leagues at unprecedented levels. The revenue gets split up in various ways, much of which ends up helping local economies.

In 2021, the NFL negotiated deals with multiple networks amounting to over $110 billion through 2033. Teams will earn more from broadcasting than ever before, enabling them to spend more on salaries, stadium upkeep, community initiatives, and other local investments.

Individual athletes also profit from huge broadcasting deals when their salaries rise. Much of their income gets funneled back into local charities, businesses, and real estate.

Increased Spending: Fans Splurge on Sports

Sports fans love supporting their favorite teams and players. Billions get spent annually on tickets, memorabilia, endorsements, gambling, travel to games, and event-related purchases.

Sports betting, particularly through platforms like FanDuel Sportsbook, is a significant industry, commanding a market share of 42% with over $29 billion wagered annually. In addition to betting, fans spend nearly $15 billion each year on sporting event tickets and merchandise. This demonstrates the robust nature of sports-related spending, which remains resilient even during economic downturns, as many fans consider it an indispensable part of their lives.

All this consumer spending benefits multiple business sectors and working-class folks employed within them. Restaurants, hotels, airlines, apparel producers, and retailers thrive thanks to rabid sports fans.


The world of sports entertainment generates absolutely staggering amounts of economic value, and the industry continues to expand rapidly, to the tune of hundreds of billions in annual revenue. And the economic benefits at local and national levels promise to keep growing in tandem. 

With so many jobs supported, neighborhoods improved, tourism dollars spent, and big-money deals driving growth across multiple sectors, sports have become an economic power player. The winning formula shows no signs of slowing down.