PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins boast one of the largest and most active fan bases in hockey. Two straight Stanley Cups may have dulled some fans’ desperation for a championship, but it has not dulled their enthusiasm or support.
Thousands of Penguins fans who can’t afford or find tickets to playoff games crowd the arena to watch the outdoor screen. They bring chairs, couches, coolers and a party atmosphere.
Fans inside and out also bring their wallet.
Last year’s Round 2 series against the Washington Capitals brought millions to the local economy. VisitPittsburgh announced fans spent about $4.3 million per game, in Allegheny County. Using a $4 million average per home game, and in 2017 the Penguins played 13 home playoff games, means about $52 million was pumped into the local economy.
It’s not hard to imagine that $4.3 million figure likely rose with the Eastern Conference Final and Stanley Cup Final as more fans surrounded the arena.
In addition to the millions poured into the area, Pittsburgh also benefits from thousands of black and gold clad party and hockey-loving fans. As part of Pittsburgh Hockey Now’s April 20 conversation with Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto which centered on several topics including arena site development and hockey, the mayor also discussed the city’s economic benefit from the Penguins playoff games. Pittsburgh CFO Sam Ashbaugh provided some hard numbers, as well.
In total, last year’s Penguins playoff success brought the city about $2.3 million, as each home game netted the city about $177,000. The bulk of that money comes from the amusement tax ($152,409), but the outdoor fans also chip-in.
The city earns just over $10,000 from parking, and even $6,216 in payroll taxes from athletes and extra workers staffed to meet Penguins fans demand. Thanks, Sid and Ovi.
But, that’s not all profit for the city.
“(Pittsburgh) probably spends close to half of that in preparation, game day, and oversight for public safety, public works” said Peduto. “And then adding in things like the parade, the watch parties at both places (the arena and last year’s overflow screen in Market Square).”
The city also provides police and paramedics for the outdoor watch parties. And we imagine couch removal, too? Though blessedly Pittsburgh fans have not adopted their Morgantown brethren’s tradition of incinerating couches after big games.
“In lieu of property taxes that would come if the arena were privately owned, (the extra revenues) helps to compensate for the loss of the real estate that would be a part of it,” Peduto said.
Unfortunately, the city was unable to provide exact figures for the amount of drink tax revenues gained from Justin Schultz and Olli Maatta during last year’s parade.
The Mayor’s Office
The mayor provided Pittsburgh Hockey Now with the tour of the office and city council chambers.
From the Andy Warhol artwork on loan from the Warhol Museum, the original 130-year-old office chairs, to one of the mayor’s personal office chairs which he purchased at the Kaufmann’s closing auction, the office is steeped in history and vintage Pittsburgh artifacts.
Mr. Peduto also returned the city landscape to his office, which former mayor Sophie Masloff once proudly displayed.
You’ll notice the Civic Arena still on the cityscape, too. “I voted to keep it,” he lamented.
Peduto is a Penguins season ticket holder and hockey fan, which is why Pittsburgh Hockey Now and the mayor’s office connected on Twitter. So, PHN would have been remiss had we not asked the mayor perhaps our toughest question.
Does he ever leave early to beat the traffic?
“No, never. (Stay until) Three stars. That’s like leaving mass before the priest blesses you,” he smiled. “You gotta stay until the priest blesses you and you have to stay to hear the three stars.”