NORMAN — With every University of Oklahoma home football game sold out, the city is preparing for another season of Sooner fans and their money descending upon the city.
While it’s impossible to completely tease out the threads of OU academics and other programs — including other sports programs — from the impact of OU football on Norman and the surrounding area, there is little doubt that football is a major money maker for city, state, county and university.
Based on reports by the university to the U.S. Department of Education, game day operating expenses of the football team for 2010-2011 (the most recent year with available data) was $6,088,817. That’s $52,946 per participant for 115 participants.
Sounds like a lot? Not when balanced against the money that flows back into the school and the community as a result of that investment.
The revenue from OU football was reported to the U.S. Department of Education at nearly $59 million, over half of the total revenue for all of OU’s sports teams combined. According to ESPN rankings, that puts OU’s football program in the top 10 (as No. 10 in the nation) for college football money-makers.
The University of Texas is rated No. 1 for the same year, University of Alabama No. 7, Nebraska is No. 13, and Arkansas is No. 17. Oklahoma State University is ranked as the No. 20 money maker for the same year.
Impact on Norman
Each game day approximately 4,000 out-of-town visitors stay overnight, according to data gathered by the Norman Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
The estimated average daily spending by those 4,000 overnight visitors is $234 per person equaling a total of $936,000 per home game day. That generates $65,160 in local sales tax and $52,696 in state tax revenues according to analysis by the Regional Project Assessment System.
That means nearly $1 million in direct dollars spent per game day is generated just by out-of-town visitors who spend the night. And that’s only a portion of the game day spending.
There is a down side. Having thousands of fans descend upon the Norman metro is a huge impact that requires the presence of extra law enforcement and emergency responders. Congested roads mean residents who aren’t attending the games must schedule their Saturday routines around game day traffic.
For many businesses, however, the traffic and commerce generated by the university in general and, specifically the football team, is vital to their economic base. For residents, football game days are like a big party with the whole town invited — not everyone appreciates it, but it’s an integral part of Norman life.
Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@ normantranscript.com