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Study estimates $193M impact of proposed athletics complex

(Dec. 6, 2007)--An economic impact study released today estimates that a proposed UTSA athletics complex would generate $193 million for the local economy through the construction of the facility and addition of athletics events. The economic impact would occur over a three-year construction phase and the first five years of operation.

The study findings have been shared with the Bexar County Amateur Athletics Committee. The report was developed as a joint effort between the UTSA Institute for Economic Development and the Tourism Management program in the UTSA College of Business. A study oversight committee of representatives from the hotel-motel and rental car industries and the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau also contributed to the analysis.

UTSA officials made a request to the Amateur Athletics Committee in September for $50 million to build the 60-acre Competitive Athletics Complex that would include NCAA-quality stadiums for baseball, softball, soccer, track and tennis. The institute's study estimates the complex could be fully operational in September 2012. If the university decides to pursue Division I football, a football practice facility also would be part of the complex.

"We took a very conservative approach to calculating the impact of the new complex," said Bob McKinley, UTSA associate vice president and director of the Institute for Economic Development. "The results indicate that the facility will positively benefit the community at large and the tourism industry."

"Progress toward UTSA achieving premier university status and San Antonio achieving 'Great City' status go hand-in-hand, and this athletics complex project is a significant step forward for both," added McKinley.

Tom Cannon, director of tourism management program in the UTSA College of Business and a key author of the study, said the study projections are based on construction and operational expenditures, UTSA co-hosted athletics and community events, and visitor spending.

The university commissioned the institute to compile the study to provide a detailed economic and tourism-related financial analysis for the athletics complex. This information will help UTSA officials, local officials and the public engage in better-informed consideration of the project.

According to McKinley, UTSA's athletics programs already contribute more than $27 million annually to the local economy including athletics program operations and the existing sports visitor base. He added the university would provide the land and ongoing maintenance for the complex.

"This study reflects the initial five years of new UTSA and community athletics events in the complex," McKinley said. "An athletics facility of this kind should provide many decades of service to the university and the community. For example, the UTSA Convocation Center has served for more than 30 years as a center for academic, athletics and community events."

According to McKinley, the $193 million economic impact projected by the study is in four major categories. The three-year construction period would generate a total construction impact of $120.3 million (direct and secondary spending). The first five years of operation in the new complex with UTSA-hosted athletics events would generate an estimated $54.6 million in tourism spending (visitors attending athletics events) plus $8.3 million for UTSA co-hosted athletics events and $9.8 million for operation of the facility.

"These are projections, but as we've seen with the Convocation Center, it's not only where UTSA plays its home basketball and volleyball games, but also a place for numerous community events," McKinley said. "More than 285,000 people go through the Convocation Center each year. Of that total, nearly 120,000 -- or about 42 percent -- are attending community events co-hosted by the university."

UTSA officials proposed sharing the new complex in a similar manner for baseball, softball, soccer, track and tennis. As the host university, UTSA has a history of working with the city, county and San Antonio Sports Foundation to bid for and host NCAA events that bring tourism dollars to the city. The 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four April 5-7 in the Alamodome will be the 11th NCAA Championship event hosted by UTSA in the last 11 years.

The economic impact of NCAA events alone is estimated at more than $200 million, according to San Antonio Sports Foundation figures. The impact of Final Four and other NCAA events hosted by UTSA outside of the proposed complex are not included in the study.

UTSA Athletic Director Lynn Hickey said she was pleased the estimated economic impact of the complex is projected "to be so significant."

"None of the proposed complex facilities exist today anywhere in Bexar County. We will work with the city, county and sports foundation to recruit tourist destination events to the complex," Hickey said. "We hope to exceed the institute's projections through full utilization of the complex by both UTSA and the community. I believe this facility can have a significant impact on the next generation of young athletes in the greater San Antonio area."

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Read the athletics complex economic impact study at the UTSA Institute for Economic Development Web site.

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