The Allstate Sugar Bowl and College Football National Championship

A College Football Playoff Semifinal in '18 and championship in '20 will mean an influx of cash for the Greater New Orleans region.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl will be played Jan. 1, but its economic impact will last well into the year. This year’s game is a College Football Playoff Semifinal, the winner going on to play for the national championship. That means New Orleans has been a star in the sports world in the weeks leading up to the game, with media attention and an influx of teams, their fans, and international media all in town for the action.

A semifinal game means big business for the host city, and New Orleans has reason to be excited. The 2015 Sugar Bowl, the last semifinal held in New Orleans, had an economic impact of $312.74 million, according to bowl officials.

“The last time the Sugar Bowl Committee hosted a college football playoff semifinal, we welcomed nearly 100,000 fans to the city. Not only that, but the game was the most watched cable television broadcast of all-time, meaning New Orleans was highlighted for millions of people around the world,” said Jeff Hundley, the Sugar Bowl’s chief operating officer.

“In the end, the Bowl’s mission is to bring valuable tourism dollars to the city and state, and we expect this game to accomplish that duty in a big way. Eighty-four years after it all started, the members of the Sugar Bowl Committee are still doing great things for New Orleans.”

The College Football Playoff was established in 2014 to replace the Bowl Championship Series. Under the playoff format, the best four teams play two semifinal games (1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3) followed by the College Football Championship game. The semifinal games rotate among six current bowl games/cities (Sugar, New Orleans; Rose, Pasadena, Calif.; Cotton, Dallas; Orange, Miami; Peach, Atlanta; and Fiesta, Tempe, Ariz.), while the championship is up for bid to any interested city.

New Orleans has that honor on Jan. 13, 2020, when it will play host to the College Football National Championship following the 2019 season.

The 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game between Clemson and Alabama had an estimated economic impact of $273.6 million for Arizona, according to a study by the L. William Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. It found 65,401 visitors came for the game and stayed an average of 3.88 nights. Additionally, more than 600 out-of-town media stayed an average of 4.3 nights.

The last time a championship game was played in New Orleans, the economic impact for the region was over $260 million. In 2012, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Classic, which featured Michigan and Virginia Tech, and the Allstate BCS National Championship, with Alabama and LSU, had a combined economic impact of $493.73 million on the metro region, including direct tax revenue of $24.35 million for the state and $16.43 million for local governments in the New Orleans area, according to a February 2012 report by University of New Orleans economist Dr. Timothy R. Ryan.

The New Orleans College Football National Championship Host Committee, led by the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, will coordinate the event. The Sugar Bowl, which had its start Jan. 1, 1935, was founded to bring tourists to New Orleans in the slow winter months. It has been successful in its goal. According to Sugar Bowl sources, over the last decade the organization has generated more than $2.6 billion in economic impact, including $200 million in state and city tax revenue. Since 1988, the Sports Foundation’s events have generated an estimated $3 billion economic impact.


Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football. Price also authors the Friday Sports Column at BizNewOrleans.com.


 

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