Study: Rialto generates $11.2 billion for city

Broadway generated $11.2 billion for the New York City economy during the 2010-11 season, according to a new report from the Broadway League.

That’s up 9% from the last time the League, the trade association of legit producers and presenters, conducted the same study with regard to the 2008-09 season. Visitors classified as “Broadway tourists” — that is, Gotham nonresidents who cited the Rialto high on the list of reasons they came to the city — spent a total of about $9 billion, with another $2.2 billion tallied for the impact of production expenses, the coin spent by producers in mounting and running their shows.

Tubthumping for the Main Stem’s importance to New York City’s overall fiscal health, the League touted the fact that some 96% of the total impact can be traced to “new money” brought to the city from out-of-town visitors. (Percentage is calculated through an equation rooted in the percentage of ticket purchases made by non-city residents).

The overall increase in reported spending in the study is attributable in part to a methodology change that took into account the spending from tourists for whom Broadway was one of the top attractions (ranked as 8, 9 or 10 on a scale of one to 10), rather than solely those who listed the Rialto as the primary reason for their visit to the city.

Tourist spending encompasses not just the money shelled out for tickets but also the coin put toward ancillary costs such as parking, meals and hotels. (This year that number came in at $5.9 billion.) Total impact figure also takes into account the ripple effect of the money throughout the city as, for instance, the Rialto’s performers spend their salaries at area businesses whose employees and owners then spend the coin themselves.

According to the League report, the 43 new productions that opened during the 2010-11 season cost a total of $210 million to produce, which is only slightly higher (adjusted for inflation) than the $204.6 million logged for the 37 productions during the 2008-09 season. The bulk of spending was on musicals, owing to the greater production costs of tuners vs. plays.

Figuring in the running costs incurred by the Rialto shows on the boards during the season, the direct expenditures on Broadway productions hit $1 billion. Shows that were on the boards during the 2010-11 frame included new offerings such as “The Book of Mormon” and “The Scottsboro Boys” as well as continuing productions such as “Wicked” and “The Lion King.”

The economic impact report, the eighth in a biennial study of the subject, is one of a series of League studies yielding data that can prove a useful tool in advocating for Broadway business issues with city and state governments.

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