The NCAA announced on Monday that Phoenix will host the Men’s College Basketball Final Four tournament in 2024. It will be just the second time Phoenix has hosted the tournament – and if 2024 brings the same results as the 2017 tournament, the Final Four will significantly boost the city’s economy.
According to a study by Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, the last tournament generated over $324 million for the Phoenix economy. That included visitor/tourism spending, organizational costs, and miscellaneous expenses. In fact, the semifinal and championship games of the tournament drew in 150,000 fans – the second-largest crowd in the history of tournament.
“Fresh off the success of the 2017 Final Four, the NCAA is coming back! Today it awarded the Valley of the Sun the 2024 Final Four, college basketball’s biggest stage. The 2017 Final Four was a huge success generating more than $324 million dollars for the local economy. More importantly, it added to Phoenix’s growing resume for hosting iconic events,” Councilman Daniel Valenzuela remarked.
When asked about how the 2024 tournament might affect the state economy, Arizona Office of Tourism director Debbie Johnson explained, “As visitor volumes increase, so do the customer bases at hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars and attractions. 44 million people visited Arizona last year — that’s more than the population of California. Any time you can import that kind of buying power into your state, it’s good for business. The Final Four is an important piece of that.”
Plus, even beyond short-term economic growth, NCAA’s selection of Phoenix expands the city’s portfolio and opens up more opportunities to host events in the future. The Phoenix/Glendale area is already the annual home to the Waste Management Open and two college football bowl games. In addition, the cities have hosted the NFL Pro Bowl and Super Bowl multiple times.
Governor Doug Ducey commented on the announcement, “I could not be prouder that the NCAA has selected Phoenix to host another iconic Final Four. The Final Four is more than just a great game, it’s a spectacular opportunity for our statewide tourism industry and a platform to showcase Arizona to an international audience. We look forward to welcoming the teams and their fans to our state, which is quickly becoming the nation’s No. 1 destination for major sporting events.”
Clearly, Arizona continues to prove itself as a choice venue for myriad sports events. In fact, the NCAA isn’t the only organization that has taken notice of the state’s hospitality – the NFL recently chose Glendale as the host of the 2023 Super Bowl. The Super Bowl will also boost the economy if history repeats itself. According to a study by the NFL host committee, the 2015 Super Bowl generated $720 million for the local economy.
Due to these sports tournaments and other events, revenue from tourism has significantly increased since 2010. In just eight years, the amount of sales from lodging, restaurants, retail, and amusement have increased by nearly 52 percent, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism. This will likely continue to increase as Arizona hosts major events like the Final Four.
Glendale and Phoenix certainly have their work cut out for them between now and 2024, but if they can organize the events as well as they have the past few years, the state economy will see the fruits of their labor.