Friday, December 6, 2013
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MILWAUKEE - Anyone who says, "It's just a game, get over it," regarding Monday's night's NFL debacle in Seattle doesn't run a retail or hospitality business in Wisconsin.
If a referee's blown call that resulted in a Green Bay Packers loss Monday night eventually costs the team a home playoff game or a spot in the playoffs altogether, it's going to cost businesses in the state dearly, business owners and an economist say.
"It's not trivial," Kevin Quinn, a sports economist at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis., said of the economic impact of a Packers home playoff game. "The numbers are substantial. For Green Bay, it's significant."
Part of the reason for that has to do with population density, Quinn said.
Take the New York Giants or Chicago Bears, for example. If those teams fail to make the playoffs, the economic impact is absorbed into huge metropolitan areas that are home to tens of millions of people. The loss of a home playoff game is barely a blip on the regions' overall economies.
Wisconsin is a different story. The population of the state is about 5.5 million, and the economic impact of a game is at least $8 million in the Green Bay area alone, Quinn said. The economic impact on the state is probably much higher, he says.
"Football matters here," he said.
That's not to say Bears or Giants fans don't love their teams or root for them any less passionately than Packers fans root for their team, Quinn said.
In terms of economics, though, outcomes matter.
Pat Fox, president of Fox Bros. Piggly Wiggly grocery stores, said playoff football's economic impact in Wisconsin is tough to measure, but it's "hugely important."
Having the Packers in a playoff game is roughly equivalent to having an extra holiday on the calendar in terms of sales, he said. "When you get to the really big games, that affects our business," he said.
Other businesses say much the same.
When it reported first-quarter earnings earlier this year, Roundy's Inc., a Milwaukee-based grocery store chain, said in a filing with federal regulators that the Packers' early exit from the playoffs last season contributed significantly to a decline in sales and earnings.