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Fact check: How big is the U.S. Open, really?

Ann Heppermann Aug 26, 2013
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The U.S. Open tennis tournament, which starts Monday, bills itself as the biggest annual sporting event in the world. It draws some 700,000 spectators. But where does it rank in terms of bucks?

When it comes to money, the U.S. Open serves a wallop. It’s generates roughly $750 million for New York’s economy, according to the U.S. Tennis Association. That’s $200 million more than the Super Bowl. Of course, the tournament lasts two weeks and those numbers may be a little loose.  

“They’re not being conservative,” says Lisa Delpy Neirotti, a sports management professor at George Washington University. She says the U.S. Open counts not only tourists, who bring in new money, but also New York tennis fans, who might be spending anyway. “It’s called expenditure switching,” she says. “Instead of just going out to dinner, now maybe they’re going to the U.S. Open.” 

For one-time ad dollars, the Super Bowl wins, says Kenneth Shropshire of the Wharton School. But while Super Bowl ads hawk razors and fast food, the U.S. Open appeals to consumers with pricier tastes. “The Rolex, the Lexis. This is the demographic, you can reach them,” he says.

They’re also more brand loyal.  But, Shropshire says, naming the money champion is really a toss-up.

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