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How much does Boulder's economy benefit from the Coach Prime effect?

“That is just for the one game, they are saying, right? $18 million, one game? Yeah, that’s optimistic,” MSU Denver Economics Professor Kishore Kulkarni said.

BOULDER, Colo. — You cannot deny the impact Deion "Coach Prime" Sanders has on University of Colorado football. But program impact is not the same as economic impact. 

Visit Boulder, The Convention and Visitors Bureau, said CU's first home game against Nebraska generated almost $18 million for the region -- a number shared by Coach Prime on his son's YouTube channel.

“They say the city made $18 million last weekend,” Coach Prime said. 

It's a number shared during the broadcast on ESPN. 

“Last week, for the home game, there was an estimated $18 million regional economic impact,” play-by-play commentator Mark Jones said. 

But it's a number that needs a closer look. 

“$18 million is, kind of, an optimistic number. Good for the marketers and the Chamber [of Commerce] to come up with that kind of money,” MSU Denver Economics Professor Kishore Kulkarni said. 

Kulkarni does not doubt that Boulder benefits from the success of Coach Prime. He just doubts the dollar amount. 

“There is no real way of measuring the impact of just the game unless you take out the games of last year, the games of how much you were filling up the stadium without this notoriety of a football team,” Kulkarni said. “There are a lot of assumptions that we have to make to come up with a direct answer to that.” 

Visit Boulder got their estimate from Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, which estimates the economic impact of events. 

“Beyond this tool, we have to factor in the impact of the media and news coverage of these games. The CU vs. NE game had 8.7 million viewers during the broadcast and was the most-watched football game in the nation. The awareness of Boulder is at an all-time high. Without a real tool to measure that media impact and exposure, for now all I can say is we feel it, we see it, and we are enjoying each game and each moment!” Visit Boulder CEO Charlene Hoffman said. 

The buzz is real. Students filled two different areas of CU’s campus at 6 a.m. Saturday to be in the background of one of two nationally televised pregame shows. 

RELATED: Deion Sanders' Buffs get prime TV slot for showdown vs. USC

Attendance is up too. 

CU vs. Nebraska: 53,241 

CU vs. CSU: 53,141 

Compare that to the first two home games last year. 

CU vs. TCU (Sept. 2): 47,868 

CU vs. UCLA (Sept. 24): 42,848 

When more people are around, more money will likely be spent. Though you also need to subtract for the people who might normally go out in and around Boulder who stay at home because of the event bringing in more people. 

“That is just for the one game, they are saying, right? $18 million, one game? Yeah, that’s optimistic,” Kulkarni said. 

Kulkarni points out the economic impact can trickle down beyond the immediate timeframe following the game. 

“In the longer run, when this additional income is given to the people, they spend that income in the economy too, and therefore is, kind of, a multiplier effect of this spending for a longer time,” Kulkarni said. 

Meaning, someone selling cowboy hats and sunglasses may pocket the money for now and spend it later. 

“They go out to buy, probably, a beer, and then they go out to buy groceries, and shopping, and they probably buy a car, so essentially there is a second round of expenditure that happens with this additional income,” Kulkarni said. 

When Taylor Swift was in Denver for two concerts in July, one estimate had the economic impact at $140 million. 

From a tax revenue standpoint, sales tax data provided by the city of Denver showed an increase of $377,000 in July 2023 compared to July 2022. And from a hotel and lodging tax revenue standpoint, the increase was $500,000 in July 2023 compared to July 2022. 

NBC News reporter Noah Pransky broke down the truth behind the Taylor Swift economy last month.

Regardless of what the final number is at CU, Coach Prime, following the Nebraska game, put his finger on impact perhaps more meaningful than money. 

"I'm not really thinking about the economical impact. Really I'm thinking about the social impact. I'm seeing more African Americans than I've ever seen before sprinkling throughout the stands and the stadium and at restaurants and everything, and I absolutely love it,” Coach Prime said. 

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