America’s sports-industrial complex took in more than $100 billion last year, according to a survey released Monday by CreditCards.com.
Sports enthusiasts’ spending included $55.9 billion for sporting events, $33.4 billion for athletic equipment, $19.2 billion for gym memberships, $8 billion for sports-themed games, $4.8 billion for race entry fees and $2.3 billion for fantasy sports leagues.
Princeton Survey Research Associates International conducted telephone interviews in English and Spanish in mid-August with 1,003 adults living in the continental U.S.
Thirty-six percent of millennials polled said they had paid for a gym membership during the past year, twice as often as older respondents.
In addition, 43% of the 18-to-53 age cohort paid to attend a sporting event in the preceding 12 months, compared with only 21% of those 53 and older.
Here’s how Americans’ sports spending broke down over the past 12 months:
- 34% on sporting events, including tickets, transportation, food and beverages
- 29% on athletic equipment
- 23% for gym memberships
- 12% for sports-themed video games
- 8% to participate in a 5K, fun run, bicycle race or similar event
- 4% for fantasy sports leagues
Not Just the Game
For most sports fans, a season ticket or admission to one event — not cheap to begin with — is only the beginning of a day’s outlay to attend a game, what with parking, refreshments and souvenirs.
CreditCards.com, citing a Tableau Public report, noted that a family of four put out an average of $503 in 2016 to attend an NFL game, up 232% from $151 in 1991.
That covered two adult tickets, two children’s tickets, two small beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, two programs, two adult-size ball caps and parking.
The same family spent $339 in 2016 to attend an NBA game, up 139% from $142 in 1991, and got off relatively cheap to watch a Major League Baseball game, spending $219.53, up 176% from $79.41 in 1991.
“Americans love sports, but it’s no secret that attending a professional sporting event is a costly endeavor, even from the upper deck,” CreditCards.com senior industry analyst Matt Schulz said in a statement.
“That doesn’t seem to be stopping people from spending a ton on athletics, though, proving that ‘if you build it, they will come.’”
Although people of all ages attend sporting events, two age groups in particular were likeliest to put out the money for tickets and other items, according to the poll results.
Forty-six percent of respondents 30 to 49 said they had spent money on sport events, as had 37% of 18- to 29-year-olds, who most often chose the cheap seats.