Sports events having increasingly large economic impact on Louis - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Sports events having increasingly large economic impact on Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- March Madness is upon us and besides the quest for a championship, there is lots of money to be made.

The high-profile sporting events held in Louisville have a huge economic impact on the city's economy.

On Wednesday, there was a discussion about the financial impact of sports on the community.

It was the bi-monthly What's Brewing Breakfast series sponsored by WDRB's partners at Business First.

Louisville Sports Commission Executive Director Karl Schmitt, Churchill Downs President Kevin Flanery, and Championship Director of the PGA of America, Brett Sterba were questioned by Business First Publisher Tom Monahan.

The NCAA Women's Regional Basketball Tournament comes to the KFC Yum! Center in less than two weeks. It is just one of many sports events held in Louisville that brings millions of dollars into the local economy each year.

"Remember these are new dollars coming into this community," said Schmitt. "These are dollars from people coming from somewhere else to lay down on the table here in our town."

Schmitt says there are some events Louisville will never be able to host, but that the city has carved out its own niche of events to attract, like the annual Iron Man contest that comes to the city each summer and fills hotels and restaurants with participants.

"We are never going to host the Winter Olympics, nor the Summer Olympics," said Schmitt, "because in our world we have to deal with the facilities we have."

While Louisville won't be hosting any Final Fours or Super Bowls like our neighbor to the north, Indianapolis, we certainly have our big events, like the Kentucky Derby, which has at least a $217 million annual impact on the community -- and that number continues to grow as the week leading up to the Derby gets bigger each year, now kicking off with night racing on the Saturday before Derby.

"The first time we did night racing Derby Week we had 38,000 people on opening night," said Flanery, "Up to 165,000 on Derby Day, it is sort of a growing phenomenon."

And in August of this year, Louisville will host the PGA Championship again for the third time at Valhalla.

"We've had a PGA Championship for 96 years," said Sterba. "We are very close to being the most successful PGA in terms of ticket sales in the history of PGA America."

Next year the KFC Yum! Center will host the men's second and third rounds of the NCAA.

Two years ago the regional played in Louisville was a huge success when Kentucky played its way through Louisville on the way to the 2012 national title.

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