All-Star Game, festivities financial hit for region July celebration brings in $31.5 million

September 10, 1993|By Kim Clark | Kim Clark,Staff Writer

The All-Star Game and the accompanying weeklong celebration of baseball generated $31.5 million for the area and its businesses, Baltimore's Department of Planning announced yesterday.

The city estimated that the game and related events July 8-13 brought Baltimore 233,000 visitors, who spent $16.4 million on everything from hotel rooms to baseball caps.

Because the influx of tourists created an indirect demand for things like repair work and extra security services, the city estimated the ripple effect nearly doubled the direct economic impact.

In all, the city estimated All-Star-related visitors filled 24,100 hotel rooms, paid $177,000 in city and county hotel taxes and $642,000 in state taxes.

In addition, since Baltimore won rave reviews in All Star-related television shows and newspaper columns, the city got a long-lasting and priceless boost.

"The immediate impacts measured by the study were extremely impressive," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said in a statement released with the report.

But, he added, "We think there will also be long-lasting benefits from the overwhelming media coverage."

Michael Conte, a University of Baltimore economist who studies the local economy, said the report's estimate was reasonable. And, he said, "you couldn't buy that kind of advertising" for the city.

Merchants, however, had mixed reviews of All-Star Week. Some saw a tremendous lift.

But others said they had worse-than-average sales in the middle of July because FanFest and other temporary vendors took most of the tourists' dollars. And regular customers were driven away by the fear of crowds.

The Planning Department said food sales at FanFest and StreetFest totaled $375,000.

Joe Bobnis, senior assistant manager of the Stouffer Harborplace Hotel, said his hotel was booked nearly solid during All-Star Week.

Normally, in July, the hotel fills 76 percent of its rooms, but this July, it filled 87 percent of the rooms, mostly because of the game, he said.

"It was packed in here. Both of the teams stayed here," and fans wanted to stay near their idols, he said.

Game visitors spent freely, he said. For example, several groups hired the hotel to provide "hospitality suites, so we had additional food and beverage revenues," he said.

Monica Wilkins, assistant manager of the Candy Barrel store in the Gallery at the Inner Harbor, said sales of sweets "did great all of All-Star week." Chocolate baseballs sold especially well, she said. By the end of the week, "we were low" in practically everything.

But another nearby merchant said that many stores, including his, didn't see any immediate benefit.

"That was the slowest week of the whole summer," said the merchant, who declined to give his name.

There was so much souvenir competition at temporary outlets like FanFest, "there was no reason to come to Harborplace," he said.

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