B’way brings in the bacon

Broadway's $4.8 bil reps big rebound from 9/11

NEW YORK — Broadway brought in almost $4.8 billion to the New York City economy during the 2004-05 season — its strongest economic impact since the 9/11 downturn.

Numbers don’t match the $4.99 billion brought in during the record-breaking 2000-01 season, but they rep a 4% increase over the 2002-03 season and a significant bump from the tallies for the 1996-97 and 1998-99 seasons, which both came in at around $3.3 billion. (Totals cited from previous seasons are all adjusted for inflation.)

The 2004-05 season included the debuts of major moneymakers “Monty Python’s Spamalot” and Billy Crystal’s “700 Sundays,” along with other successes such as “Doubt,” “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “The Light in the Piazza” and “Twelve Angry Men.”

In all, 45,000 full-time jobs depended on Broadway, up from 36,000 two years earlier — 13,000 employed by Broadway, plus 32,000 people in local businesses kept afloat thanks to Broadway-motivated biz.

Out-of-town visitors, who purchased 82% of the 11.53 million tickets sold last season, brought in more than $3 billion.

Show expenses (production and operating costs) came to more than $1.7 billion, and theater expenses (renovation and maintenance) added up to $17.6 million.

Figures were derived from direct spending — both by producers and by patrons on payroll, tickets, restaurants, hotels, etc. — added to the ripple effect of those monies as they were circulated in the local economy. (The tally for visitor spending included only the cash spent by tourists who made a trip to Gotham specifically to see a Broadway show and not the money spent by ticket buyers who cited another primary reason for coming to the city.)

The 1.3 million tickets sold to international visitors doubled the tally recorded two seasons earlier. Figure was also the highest recorded since 9/11, which caused tourism to plummet.

But per capita spending by foreigners actually fell, from $921 to $789. According to tourism marketing org NYC & Co., that was likely due to a weakened dollar, lower airline prices and an increase in hotel prices that prompted more visitors to share a hotel room.

Tickets sold to suburbanites dropped 21% to 2.48 million, down from 3.11 million in the 2002-03 season.

Nonetheless, a full 93% of Broadway’s economic impact came from out-of-town money, according to the biennial report, issued by the League of American Theaters and Producers.

It will come as no surprise to legiters, well acquainted with complaints that it costs more than ever to put up a show, that production costs increased by 23% over 2002-03, rising to $165.2 million.

The season’s 15 new tuners cost $133.7 million to produce vs. the relatively piddling $31.4 million it took to put up the 23 new productions of plays. (There was one special event.)

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