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City expects cash infusion from event

Wed., May 6, 2009

Economic impact could total $26 million

Spokane officials estimate the AT&T 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships will generate almost $17 million in direct spending and almost $1.4 million in local and state taxes.

Throw in a “modest” 1.75 multiplier to account for secondary spending – spending by people who made money from the event – and the total economic impact comes in at $25.7 million, with tax revenues of $2.3 million, said Gavin Cooley, the city’s chief financial officer.

“We’ve taken a look at the impact the championships had in Spokane in 2007, and it was significant,” Cooley said. “We expect stronger results from the 2010 event.”

Next year’s championships will determine the U.S. competitors at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., which will start just 18 days after the Spokane event concludes.

Event promoters Barb Beddor and Toby Steward, of Star USA, noted Cooley’s figures fall in the middle of the estimated amount – $20 million to $30 million – spent during the 2007 championships. But interest will be much higher next year and come from all Olympics fans, not just the skating community, they predicted.

To make sure as many Spokane-area fans as possible – even those without tickets – can participate, Beddor said organizers are working with city officials to hold some FanFest events outside River Park Square, including more fireworks shows.

“We want to be clear that this event is for everybody,” she said.

The city estimates tickets and concessions will generate $5.1 million in revenue. Restaurants and hotels will each garner about $3.3 million in additional business, according to the estimate. It added $2 million for other spending and almost $1 million on rental cars.

Beddor and Stewart, who were hoping for a $600,000 state contribution toward event costs, said they are scrambling to fill the gap after the Legislature whacked that sum to $200,000, then eliminated the appropriation entirely.

“We’re absolutely certain we will overcome it,” Beddor said.

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