© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Football Bump Boosts NRV Economy


In Blacksburg, Virginia the words, “game day” mean two things: Hokie football and traffic.  But a new economic impact study says that traffic brings 69-million dollars a year to the region. 

Even though it’s just one season, football fans from out of town bring the kind of gifts to the region that keep on giving all year long. That’s according to a just completed study by Virginia Tech’s office of Economic Development. Researchers talked with New River Valley businesses, public officials and organizations, sent online surveys to season ticket holders and buttonholed fans before games at tailgate.

“We basically asked them, if Virginia Tech football were not here, would you come to the area and half of them said, no or they were really unsure,” says Sarah Lyon-Hill, who led the study.

Lyon-Hill says for some business owners said the football boost helped sustain them for the rest of the year.  289 jobs in the region are also tied directly to game weekend tourists. But while Virginia Tech’s study found significant economic impact to this region other studies in other parts of the country have not. So what’s different about Virginia Tech?

“Obviously, one thing is because you guys are in the middle of nowhere,” says Victor Matheson, who teaches economics at Holy Cross. “And you could very easily be a regional draw for lots of areas in there. You don’t have that many people within the town spending money on the game because there’s just not that many people within the town to spend.”

And that makes the football spending easier to track. In large urban areas, it’s not as clear exactly why tourists visit.  But you can’t discount the strong dedication of Hokie fans. Triple their number come to games here, than in 2000.  And another source of revenue, not included in the 69 million total, comes from what are known as Hokie houses, around 2300 of them, bought by far flung Hokie fans who use them only on Football weekends.

Robbie Harris is based in Blacksburg, covering the New River Valley and southwestern Virginia.
Related Content