Marathon Means Money: Boston Marathon Helps City Revenue in Big Way

Monday marks the 116th running of the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon. The event is one of the more popular events in Beantown, as it coincides with Patriots Day. With local schools closed and many residents given the day off from work, the race typically draws a big crowd along with the Red Sox annual 11 a.m. game at Fenway Park.

This year’s race looks like it will coincide with fantastic weather conditions, at least for the spectators. The temperature is expected to reach the high 80s, which has caused marathon organizers to caution inexperienced runners against participating for fear of heat-related complications. While the high heat isn’t the best thing for runners, it should help draw crowds along the street seeking sunshine.

In doing some quick research I was surprised to see just how much revenue the Marathon generates. According to the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, Monday’s race is expected to generate $137.5 million for the area. That is expected to be the second-largest revenue for the race behind only 1996 when the race field was expanded for the 100-year anniversary. This year, some 500,000 are expected to watch the roughly 27,000 participants navigate the 26.2-mile course.

The Visitors Bureau categorizes the revenue as follows: $92.4 million in money spent by athletes and guests, $16 million from fundraisers, $12 million by spectators, $10.1 million by sponsors and media and $7 million from the Boston Athletic Association. These figures have economists buzzing.

I always knew the race was big, however the $137.5 million tag really surprised me. Consider that this year’s NCAA Tournament Final Four in New Orleans drew $145 million for the Big Easy. The Final Four is undoubtedly a more popular sporting event, yet the numbers are very similar in the revenue column.

With all this business, it’s ready, set, go in Boston on Monday.


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