The Real Cost of March Madness

By Ben Steverman, with Eben Novy-Williams and Seth Magalaner - 2012-03-21T23:12:14Z

Photograph by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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Host Cities

More than 75,000 fans will watch the men's Final Four games at the Superdome in New Orleans. The mayor's office estimates the games will inject $134.1 million into the Crescent City. That includes $77 million in direct spending on the event, such as tickets and hotel reservations, and $57.1 million on shopping, dining and other tourist activity. The Superdome is hosting this event for the fifth time, but this is the first time since the facility's $336 million repair and renovation following Hurricane Katrina.

Denver hosts the women's Final Four at the Pepsi Center, home of the Denver Nuggets. The city estimates 30,000 fans will visit, bringing $20 million in additional economic activity.

A cautionary note: As one 2011 study stated, actual economic benefits of large sporting events "are almost always a fraction of the benefits claimed" beforehand.