Does an All Blacks loss affect the economy?

Does an All Blacks loss affect the economy?

Do sports teams, even ones as iconic as the All Blacks, affect our economy?

Drawing on international comparisons, an economist, Michael Leeds, likened a baseball team’s economic influence to a mid-sized department store. Baseball, with its 81 home games, boasts an extensive season, yet its financial contribution remains surprisingly small.

Could the same be said for our beloved All Blacks?

Sports teams, local and national politicians and lobby groups–not the All Blacks–have been known to occasionally project inflated financial figures. A study by Liverpool Football Club asserted they infused £497 million into their local economy in one season. But it’s crucial to note: not every dollar fans spend on sports adds new economic value. If not on rugby, Kiwis might splurge on concerts or movies, suggesting a potential reallocation rather than an economic boost.

Extensive studies, like those by economists Dennis Coates and Brad Humphreys, further this idea. They consistently found only a marginal economic impact from professional sports. Interestingly, some cities even noted a rise in tax revenue when major teams departed, perhaps due to fewer game-day interruptions.

New Zealand has yet to undergo a similar large-scale study. However, using international benchmarks, it’s plausible the direct economic benefits sports teams, including the All Blacks, might be less than we assume.

Quantifying their intangible benefits–fostering community pride, enhancing national identity, and cultural significance–is not possible, but no less important because of it.

While the broader economic impact might be subtle, local businesses feel the difference more starkly.

Eateries and stores near stadiums, like those neighbouring Eden Park, thrive on match days. The hiatus caused by COVID-19 highlighted their reliance on these events, underlining a deeper symbiotic relationship between sports and local commerce.

Sports may not be the towering economic giants they’re perceived as. But as Leeds aptly phrases it, cheering for the All Blacks is like the joy of gifting a loved one: it’s not about the cost but the sentiment.

For Kiwis, supporting our teams isn’t about dollars and cents but celebrating our unity, pride, and identity.


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