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Experts Say A Winning Royals Team Is Good For The City And It Makes Us Happy

Courtesy Kathleen Kunkler
The Royals have the best record in their division, and full staduims could be a sign of the positive effect a winning team has on Kansas City's economy.

The Kansas City Royals are enjoying a great baseball season this year.

Despite the last few games, the Royals still have the best record in their division, and they’re looking forward to another post-season run. Las Vegas was rating them a favorite to win the World Series — even before the team picked up pitcher Johnny Cueto and utility man Ben Zobrist

And, all this is having a big effect— economically and psychologically — on our metro.

Royals by the numbers

For starters, a lot more people are actually going to games.

According to Toby Cook, Royals Vice-President of Community affairs, if the Royals didn't sell another ticket for the rest of the season, they would still have a 20 percent increase in attendance with 2.35 million tickets sold through Wednesday’s game.

They’ve sold out 13 games this year. To put that in perspective, in the Royal’s lowest times over the last 10 years, Cook said that they sold out five games in five years — all on opening days.

“These are numbers we haven't seen for about 25 years,” Cook told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

All that extra attendance means the the Royals are employing more people at the stadium per game. On weeknights, they are using their entire staff of 1,500 people instead of the 1,000 the used to have during the week. 

Secondary ticket brokers are happy

As far as the secondary ticket sale market goes, the economic effect of the Royals is clear — more wins equals better business.

At least, for the Royals.

“It’s affecting our Chiefs sales. People aren’t buying any Chiefs tickets because they’re waiting to find out what exactly is going to happen with the Royals,” said Hal Wagner. He owns Ace Sports and Nationwide Tickets at Oak Park Mall.

But the market for Royals tickets is pretty comfortable. 

"We had a gentleman in [the store] just a few minutes ago, he brought in his tickets and the face value was $40 and we gave him $80 a piece. So we’re gonna more than face value in every case for good Royals tickets and then we mark it up a percentage from that,” Wagner said.

Putting a dollar value on Royals pride

You might say that being a being a Royals fan is priceless, but economist Bruce Johnson will agree to disagree.

In the early 2000s, he conducted a study in Pittsburgh to determine what economic value people put in the civic pride generated by a sports team.

He gave people a hypothetical situation — say the Pittsburgh penguins are about to be sold to another city. How much would you pay each year in taxes to keep them in your town?

“People in Pittsburgh said they would be willing to pay $45-47 million to keep the Penguins in town,” Johnson told Kraske. “That's translated into today’s economy.”

He also asked participants why.

“The feeling that they help make Pittsburgh a major league city and that makes us proud. They give us something to talk about,” Johnson said.

He thinks that the Royals could have a more significant value because they of their appeal to the region.

Though they are technically located in Missouri, the Royals are widely considered the hometown team in Kansas and parts of Nebraska as well. Johnson believes that were the same question put to people across the region, those out-of-state fans would chip in too.

How much would Up To Date listeners put in for the Royals?

Steve called in from Blue Springs and said he would pay $250 a year. He believes it has a huge benefit to the community.

Jason also called in from Topeka and told Kraske that he would pay to keep the Royals where they are, even though he lives in Kansas.

Investing in the Royals, according to another economist, also means investing in your happiness.

Royals wins make us happy

Michael Davis, an economics professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, teamed up with psychologist Christian End to study the effects of winning sports teams on people's incomes.

They found that people are happier when their team is winning, because they associate themselves with the team's victory. This effect is referred to as Basking In Reflected Glory.

Davis and End theorized that happy people tend to be more productive at work and spend more money, which makes the city happy, too. 

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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