New Facility Could Have Significant Economic Impacts

The potential economic benefits of a multi-sport complex in Helena, Montana have been estimated by Highland Economics. These benefits may include:

  • Attracting and retaining residents and businesses by improving amenities and quality of life in the area,
  • Improving health outcomes and saving users money on health care costs, and
  • Increasing tourism in the Helena area and thus increasing spending by attracting out-of-town visitors for athletic tournaments.

Among the study’s most significant findings are that:

  • Lewis and Clark County lacks the sports facilities common in other large Montana cities, which presents an opportunity for a new sports complex to improve the area’s quality of life relative to its peers.
  • For every 30 households that the new sports facility helps attract and retain in the local area (representing approximately two to five percent of the projected annual membership), their household spending alone could expand the local economy by approximately 15 jobs and over $572,000 per year in labor income. Additional benefits from attraction/retention of households would likely be felt from additional skilled labor in the regional labor force, and potentially direct job creation if entrepreneurs were among those attracted/retained in the area.
  • Visitor spending during sports tournaments has the potential to bring in $1.36 million per year to the Helena area, which would support approximately 20 jobs and $487,000 in income annually for local workers. This level of labor income exceeds the annual budget shortfall for the proposed facility identified in the facility feasibility study of roughly $103,000 to $335,000 (Ballard King & Associates Ltd, 2017). Thus, at the community level, community financial support for the facility to make up for operating losses would likely be more than recouped in total increased community income.
  • If the facility encourages physical activity by individuals who are currently physically inactive, then the facility could provide such users up to $1,500 per year in health care savings, and can potentially save local employers over $600 per employee per year (in increased productivity and reduced absenteeism) for such employees that use the facility.
  • Retirees, whose income is frequently independent of local labor markets, tend to use quality of life when making decisions about whether to stay in or relocate to communities. For every 30 retiree households that chose to relocate to the Helena area, household spending could expand the local economy by over 12 jobs and $504,000 per year in labor income.

The Helena Regional Sports Association encourages area business owners and other residents to review the full study to see how a new sports facility might positively affect the entire community.