Broadway road shows generate $3 billion in local economies

League report calculates economic impact for 2008-09 season

Touring Broadway shows contributed $3.35 billion to local economies in the U.S. during the 2008-09 season, according to a new report from the Broadway League.

Trade association of legit producers and presenters measured direct spending prompted by road shows — such as producer outlay and consumer spending — as well as the effect of the funds as they rippled out into the communities where they were spent. Shows on the road during the 2008-09 season included “Legally Blonde,” “The Color Purple” and long-runners including “Mamma Mia!” and “The Lion King.”

League periodically issues such reports; the last focused on the 2004-05 season. Comparison of the two indicates the 2008-09 economic impact was 17% higher than the prior report’s numbers, with attendance up by 7%, according to the org.

Direct production and presenting expenses accounted for $596.3 million in impact to local economies and some $210.9 million that returned to Gotham, where the majority of the Broadway industry is based. Ancillary theatergoer spending — i.e., coin shelled out for pre-theater meals, parking and hotel rooms — came to $687.2 million. The indirect impact from secondary rounds of spending brings the overall tally to $3.35 billion.

Average weekly cost of running a tour came to $528,000 per week, according to the report. Consumer spending averaged $79 per person, although that tally tended to be higher in larger cities.

Findings were based on data collected from 17 venues ranging in size from L.A. and Washington, D.C., on the larger end of the spectrum down to smaller cities including Des Moines and Appleton, Wis. The 2008-09 season saw about 40 shows traveling on a circuit of 192 regional venues.