The month of March marks the biggest tournament for NCAA basketball and each season teams from different conferences compete in hopes to advance to this annual March Madness tournament. Since Canisius is in the MAAC conference, every year they battle for the final spot against ten other teams: Marist, Quinnipiac, Siena, Rider, Monmouth, St. Peters, Niagara, Fairfield, Iona, and Manhattan in order to make it to the NCAA tournament. This year the 36th annual MAAC Basketball Championships were held in Albany, NY at the Times Union Center, March 3rd through March 7th, and I had the privilege to volunteer as a Canisius MSA graduate student throughout the course of the tournament.
I attended the tournament with another graduate assistant in the MSA program, James Donovan. As student volunteers, our main responsibility was to conduct the Economic Impact Study for the MAAC. In order to obtain the data for the direct financial impact of the MAAC tournament on the city of Albany, surveys with economic questions were developed with input from the MAAC administration to analyze the expenditures of several groups of people associated with the MAAC Basketball Championships. The survey contained 20 questions, which asked demographics, affiliation, method of transportation, travel distance, attending habits, and spending behavior. All of the surveys were conducted before the start of the games, during halftime, and after the games. In order to entice fans to fill out a survey, Canisius sport administration gear, MAAC gear, and each school’s marketing signs were given out. James and I spent three full days collecting surveys, attending 14 games total, focusing on not only getting as many surveys as possible, but getting a range in the variety of local fans to out of town fans.
This experience was extremely interesting being a participant in business side of sports in order to learn how large tournaments economically impact the city in which they are being held. After meeting with Rich Ensor, the MAAC commissioner, and conducting the surveys over 3 days, I learned how significant economic statistics are when dealing with large sporting tournaments. The sports industry is a billion dollar business and if a city is holding a sporting event, they want to know if the event is financially benefiting the city. Conducting surveys such as the MAAC economic impact survey are crucial for providing an accurate sample size of money spent throughout a specific event, and in turn, discovering the direct financial impact on the city in which the event is being held. James and I are in the process of reviewing the results and analyzing the data from the survey before we send our results directly to the commissioner.