DOWNTOWN — Amid a local economy sacked by underperforming tax revenues, slumping home values and high unemployment, the biggest winners in the Rose Bowl and BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena won’t be taking the field.
The 121st Rose Parade and two post-season college football games are expected to produce an economic impact of $350 million to $400 million for greater Southern California, according to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and past economic studies.
“This has to be an economic pleasure for the Southern California region,” said Bill Flinn, chief operating officer for the Tournament of Roses. “This year there’s no doubt about the fact. You have two games, four out-of-state teams and a parade that drives hundreds of thousands of people to the area.”
A new rotating collegiate bowl system for the first time brings to Pasadena two major bowl games within a week of each other.
A further economic boon to the area comes in the fact that neither USC nor UCLA are competing in the games, said Bruce Ackerman, president and chief executive of the Valley Economic Alliance.
He noted that not only are the competing colleges from outside Southern California, but the closest school is more than 800 miles away in Eugene, Ore.
“It’s huge,” said Ackerman, who served as the chief executive for chambers of commerce in the communities of San Fernando, Van Nuys and Pasadena. “Try to go online and get a hotel reservation in the five-county area.”
The Rose Bowl stadium seats more than 90,000 fans.
While Burbank and Glendale are sure to be flush with visitors — swelling airports, hotels, restaurants and taxicabs — tourists are also expected to seek entertainment in the form theme parks, beaches, museums and shopping malls from Ventura County to San Diego, said Judee Kendall, president and chief executive of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.
“For many people it will be there first time in the area. They’ll be staying in the hotels, dining and shopping,” she said. “I think it will have a great impact.”
At Bob Hope Airport, which is outfitted with banners for the Rose Bowl and BCS Championship Game, the increase in travelers could help reverse slumping commercial passenger counts, airport spokesman Victor Gill said.
Already, hundreds of passengers have reserved space for private aircraft, said Ron Reynolds, director of operations at Million Air, a fixed base operator at Bob Hope Airport.
The company expects to welcome 30 aircraft for the Rose Bowl and about 100 for the Bowl Championship Game.
Atlantic Aviation, which also leases space from the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, anticipates 25 arrivals for the matchup between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Oregon Ducks and 175 for the clash of the Texas Longhorns and Alabama Crimson Tide, General Manager Steven Schell said.
Many of the flights were scheduled to leave the morning after the game to abide a voluntary flight curfew of 10 p.m., Schell said.
“I think everybody wants to be good neighbors,” he said.
While the total number of visitors to the two games and New Year’s Day parade is uncertain, area hotel managers said guests began making reservations months ago. Most of the 488 rooms at the Burbank Airport Marriott Hotel and Convention Center have been sold out for months, with a 5%-vacancy cushion provided by cancellations, Senior Sales Manager Elaine Gonzales said.
At the Holiday Inn Burbank-Media Center, managers said the hotel began taking reservations en mass in November. In a regular year, management typically scales down to a skeleton staff following New Year’s Day. But with the second game, it will be all hands on deck, they said.
In Glendale, the Hilton Los Angeles North and the Embassy Suites Los Angeles have been booked solid for weeks, managers said.
Kelly Halteman, director of sales and marketing for Embassy Suites, described the scene as “swamped beyond belief.”
The extra visitors come to Southern California during one of the year’s slowest months for taxicab companies, said Debbie Waters, operations manager at Tri-City Transportation System.
The company will have nearly 200 cabs on the road in the region and may pull an additional four to 20 temporary permits in Pasadena, she said.
“If I was driving today, I would go and do it myself,” said Martin Shatakhyan, general manager of G&S; Transit, Tri-City and City Cab. “Now’s the time for them to catch up.”
UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2005 estimated $370 million in direct and indirect spending from the parade and game.
A 2008 USC Sports Business Institute study found that out-of-area fans generally stick around longer and spend more money than locals.
And there’s no telling what worldwide exposure might do for future tourism figures, Ackerman said.
“When you have good weather, there’s no better way to showcase Southern California,” he said.