Jayhawks’ success boosts local economy, too

It’s not just Kansas University that benefits when the basketball team does well in the NCAA Tournament. City and business leaders alike can look forward to a boost in their coffers as well.

“It’s like another Christmas for us,” said Ryan Owens, general manager of the Jock’s Nitch sporting goods store, 837 Mass. “Everybody’s happy. Everybody’s excited.”

The store had Final Four shirts at the ready when KU advanced to the national semifinals of the tournament and was selling them to the elated crowd.

“We sell some of everything,” Owens said. “We sell our regular merchandise as well. … It’s a significant boost.”

There’s an uptick of activity in a lot of different parts of the city’s economy during a big basketball run, said David Corliss, Lawrence city manager. In addition to the tangible sales tax windfalls, the goodwill associated with the university that’s generated across the country benefits Lawrence, too, he said.

Other factors, like high gasoline prices, can drag down sales tax receipts as consumers have less disposable income, he said. So a good run by the basketball team can help counterbalance that effect.

The city does get a share of the state’s alcohol sales tax for alcohol consumed in restaurants and bars, but it doesn’t receive any of the sales tax for alcohol sold in liquor stores, Corliss said. But several segments of the economy do well in good basketball times, he said.

“All things considered, we’re just delighted with their success, and hopefully it’ll continue to translate into economic success for the community,” Corliss said.

Chuck Magerl, owner of Free State Brewery, 636 Mass., said it was good to have beer from Lawrence in the retail marketplace during the tournament, as fans seemed to enjoy being able to drink a beer from Lawrence as KU played.

The benefit comes from the good feelings people have after watching the team’s performance, even for people who aren’t normally sports fans.

“It was inspirational,” he said.