BMO Vancouver Marathon brings in $42.5 million for local economy

BMO Vancouver MarathonOpponents of major marathons in cities took another blow this week.

Research on the economic impact of the Vancouver Marathon on Metro Vancouver was released by Dr. Brock Smith of the Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria.

Smith’s report claims the net local income of the marathon was $42 million, $35 of which was generated by the 35,000 or more spectators and visitors to the city who spent, on average, $475.44 per person on their time in the city. The number is equivalent to 1003 full-time jobs. This is a major increase from 2012, when the race only generated $25 million from visitors and spectators.

The numbers in the report are calculated using number of competitors, estimated number of spectators, and how many are not from the local area. Spectators and competitors at road races, even those who are locals, spend notable sums of money on food and beverages, accommodation and transport. The average local spectator of the race still spent $17.86 on food, and those visiting the city spent an average of $158.59 on food and drinks.

“It’s an event that engages 17,000 runners, but really it’s appealing to a much broader group of people than ever before,” said Executive Director Charlene Krepiakevich. “We believe the the BMO Vancouver Marathon is a major economic driver in the city bringing runners, spectators and visitors to the city, all with hundreds of dollars to spend here. With that we’re seeing more exhibits at the expo and more interest in the event as a festival of sport.”

In total, the 2013 event marks a $16.6 million increase in economic activity in the area from the 2012 race.

These types of economic impact studies are not uncommon, and most come to the same conclusion that large road races are generally very good for the local economy of the cities that host them. It is worth noting many of the numbers used in these studies are based on estimates and can be contested.

A study on last year’s Chicago marathon estimated the 2012 race brought in $243 million in business activity to the area.

Those who oppose road races in cities rarely do so because of economic reasons, and generally the distaste stems of transportation problems sometimes caused by road closures, but with economic impact reaching into the tens and hundreds of millions for large races, it’s becoming more difficult to argue against a few hours of street closures.