Carolina Panthers fans really sank their fangs into Spartanburg’s economy in 2017.
A new study released Weds., Oct. 25, showed the NFL team’s annual training camp – held July 26 through Aug. 13 at Wofford College – had a record $13.24 million impact on the county.
The fiscal benchmark was set despite the fact that 34,556 fewer visitors attended this year’s camp, compared with the previous year’s record turnout of 135,371 fans who helped generate the previous high of $13.064 million in economic impact.
“Carolina Panthers training camp has steadily made a bigger impact on our local economy, and this year’s report shows another increase that is important to note,” said Chris Jennings, executive vice president of the Spartanburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB), in a statement.
“The total attendance of more than 100,000 visitors was impressive, but our bottom line is the bottom line – total economic impact. It grew again this year, and that’s worth celebrating. We’re already looking forward to next year.”
Clemson University tourism expert Bob Brookover conducted the study based on data compiled by the Spartanburg County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The increase in the impact of economic activity generated by the 2017 camp, compared with the previous year’s camp, was comprised of a 1.3 percent increase in spending to $10.764 million; a nearly 1.4 percent increase in net local government revenues to $732,000; and about a 3 percent increase in net state government revenue to $2.368 million, according to the study.
Economic impact and camp attendance in 2015 were $8.029 million and 77,625 fans, respectively. In 2014, those numbers were $5.225 million and 49,029 visitors.
Panthers camp created 266 jobs this year, compared with 263 in 2016, 174 in 2015, and 113 in 2014.
The study showed the camp drew from a wider audience in 2017, as 56 percent of visitors polled said they traveled more than 50 miles to attend.
By comparison, those numbers were 39 percent in 2016, 43 percent in 2015, and 44 percent in 2014.
But Spartanburg’s appeal as a destination for travelers could be gaining ground.
The study showed that of the visitors who traveled more than 50 miles to attend training camp, 65 percent said the camp was the primary reason for their visit in 2017. That number was down from 81 percent in 2016, 73 percent in 2015, and 74 percent in 2014.
Average expenditures per visitor were $150 this year, compared with $151 during the prior year, $161 in 2015, and $149 in 2014, according to the study.
Carolina finished the 2015 regular season with a 15-1 record that the team capped off with a playoff win against the Seattle Seahawks, an NFC championship win against the Arizona Cardinals, and a Super Bowl loss to the Denver Broncos.
The team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012 and finished at the bottom of the NFC South in 2016 with a 6-10 record.
But the Panthers still attracted more fans to camp than their Super Bowl opponents did this year.
The Broncos, which finished the 2016 season with a 9-7 record, said a record 54,013 fans showed up at its 2017 camp at the UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colo.