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Sports: L.A.'s Profitable Passion

By Adam Tilford '15

Published Sep 6, 2013 8:00 AM

A report by UCLA M.B.A. students reveals the considerable economic impact of sports on Los Angeles.


Photo by: Michal Czerwonka

There’s plenty of evidence that the people of Los Angeles love sports, but how much does that love mean in dollars and cents? This spring, some UCLA M.B.A. students found out: sports added $4.1 billion to the Los Angeles economy in 2012.


The students (who are now Bruin alumni) Guy Holzman ’13, Shannon Marquardson ‘13, Alan Druckman ’13 and Jake Darby ’13 co-authored a report that cited revenue, attendance and employment numbers totaling the multi-billion dollar figure. The data also indicated that area sports generate about 10,000 fulltime and part-time jobs.

The report was designed to show how hosting such a wide variety of major sports — from professional baseball, hockey and basketball to collegiate sports and events such as the L.A. Marathon and NASCAR —affects the local economy. To do so, the team identified 55 local sports organizations, venues and major annual events — ranging from professional franchises like the L.A. Dodgers to major universities like UCLA to venues like the Staples Center — and examined their annual revenue, attendance and employment figures.

The project was a great way for the four co-authors, all sports fans, to mix personal passions and academic work. But the subject of the report didn’t change their professional approach, Holzman says. "It’s sports-related, but it’s a lot of spreadsheets with lots of numbers. It’s a business like any other business."


This is the eighth time in the past two decades that UCLA Anderson School of Management has partnered with the Los Angeles Sports Council, one of the project’s sponsors. David Simon ‘72, president of the council, says, "The Anderson teams consistently have been bright and motivated. It has been a pleasure to work with them."

The students created the report for a 20-week capstone program at UCLA Anderson known as Applied Management Research (AMR). Every Anderson MBA student takes part in this 47-year-old program, which has reached out to every spectrum of the business world—from Fortune 500 companies like Google, to nonprofits like FINCA, to as-yet-unheard-of startups. For the clients, the AMR program provides 1,000 to 2,000 hours of professional-quality work at a fraction of the normal cost.

The report came at a great time for Los Angeles, considering the announcement earlier this year that the city wants to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. To win that prestigious honor, for the city’s third Olympics, boosters will have to convince the International Olympic Committee that Los Angeles is the right choice.

Although the report wasn’t created specifically for the Olympics bid, Simon says it could prove valuable for that purpose. "If you’re trying to show that there’s a huge throbbing sports market in L.A. then you can use that," he says of the data.

He says he’s always surprised by a couple of findings in the Anderson reports. In this case, "the L.A. area’s nine professional teams sold 82 percent of their available tickets, despite an industry trend of declining attendance due to the soft economy,” he says.

The report ultimately provided tangible proof of the impact of sports on the city. Holzman sums it up: "Nowhere else in the world are people more nuts about sports than in L.A."

This story is based on an article in UCLA Today. To view the original full-length article, visit