Indianapolis will welcome four college basketball teams and their raving fans next month as the finalists compete for the NCAA championship. Also in the fray, however, will be Indianapolis restaurants, competing for their share of the out-of-towners' business.
Previously, it was tough to quantify how much sales can rise in cities that host large sporting events, such as Indianapolis next month or cities that host Super Bowls.
But APT, which stands for Applied Predictive Technologies, began querying this topic last year with its APT Index—and it's finding that yes, large sporting events create very sizable sales bumps in host cities.
APT studied last year's Final Four, which was held at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, as well as the Super Bowl played in February in Phoenix. It found that for sporting events such as these, which a large number of visitors travel to, restaurants can see anywhere from a 4 percent to 14 percent sales increase.
"What's different about the APT Index is, we do it at a hyper-local level," says Jonathan Marek, the senior vice president of APT who runs the restaurant practice globally. "We can get down into individual zip codes and trade areas, down to specific restaurants."
During the 2014 NCAA Final Four, which the NCAA says attracted 158,682 fans, restaurant sales comps in the region surrounding AT&T stadium rose 2.8 percent, compared to 1.6 percent with the rest of the U.S. Interestingly, the corridors of the region that surround the stadium and encircle the airports saw an even greater incidence of rising sales: The Dallas-Fort Worth metro area on the whole enjoyed sales comps of 4.3 percent, with a few neighborhoods even surpassing 5 percent.
"You can definitely see the patterns of people coming into town and eating out," Marek says. "The area where DFW Airport and Love Field Airport and then downtown Fort Worth are where you expect people to stay when they're coming from out of town. Most of the three-star-plus hotels are also out in that area."
To study the Super Bowl held last month in Arizona, APT compared the year-over-year sales at restaurants during the week of Jan. 27–Feb. 2, 2014, versus Jan. 25–Feb. 1, 2015 (the Super Bowl was played Feb. 1, 2015). While national restaurant comps during the week were 6.2 percent, restaurant comps in the Phoenix metro area were 9.5 percent.
On an even more granular level, restaurant comps in the area surrounding the University of Phoenix stadium, where the Super Bowl was played, were at an impressive 13.9 percent. Total attendance for this Super Bowl was upwards of 70,000, according to sources, though a greater number often fly to the host city just to join in the festivities.
While the 2014 Final Four and Super Bowl XLIX are the only two sporting events APT has analyzed in this fashion so far, Marek expects the company to continue to do so over time and track clear patterns of dine-out behaviors surrounding large sporting events. He says APT's analyses will likely differentiate events that people travel to versus more localized ones.
"We haven't looked back at the World Series, for example, but if you think about it, the World Series is an event that's local-dominated because it alternates between two cities," Marek says. "Whereas for the Final Four in Dallas, it was four teams from around the country, and for the Super Bowl obviously those two teams had a lot of people traveling in."
Marek notes that APT receives its data from restaurant clients across the U.S. in both quick-service and full-service segments, including Darden Restaurants, Brinker Internatinal, and DineEquity.
By Sonya Chudgar