[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Thousands of NBA All-Star Game fans were expected to give metro Phoenix an $80 million shot in the arm this winter. But now, amid a historic economic meltdown, it’s anyone’s guess how much money fans will spend. The Feb. 15 basketball showcase at US Airways Center will draw fans to stores, hotel rooms, restaurants, and attractions, a welcome boost in sales for businesses and in sales taxes for city coffers. Phoenix is buckling under an estimated $250 million budget deficit.
At one point, city officials had expected 125,000 to 150,000 fans and an economic impact of $80 million. But some experts predict that at least some fans will spend less freely than they did in past years. They may stay fewer days, forgo side trips to destinations such as the Grand Canyon or eat fewer pricey meals, said Robert Hayward of Warnick and Co., a national hospitality-industry consultant with offices in Phoenix.
Nobody will know for sure what effect the economic downturn will have on Phoenix’s All-Star Game expectations until January, when many fans begin to make travel plans, said Robert Tuchman of Premiere Corporate Events. His firm sells travel packages for the All-Star Game and other major sporting events. He said he expects corporations will scale back on spending. “If a company was taking 20 people, they are taking 14 or 15 people,” Tuchman said. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]