Every game with fans at Camp Randall could bring up to $16 million in revenue to Madison, experts say

MADISON, Wis. – Economists in Madison say UW Athletics’ goal to bring fans back for the fall 2021 football season could bring millions of dollars of revenue back to the city.

Jason Ilstrup, President of Downtown Madison Inc, said each home game can bring with it $16 million dollars of economic impact.

“Badger athletics is hugely important to Madison,” Ilstrup said. “Honestly, it’s important to our entire state…It’s thousands of jobs. Not just student jobs, but jobs throughout the entire community. In hotels, restaurants, the attractions that are in town.”

Ilstrup said while he understands the decision not to have fans in the stands in 2020, it likely cost downtown hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

It was very difficult for many businesses,” he said. “Places like Hotel Red remained closed for the near term. They might have reopened if it wasn’t for (Coronavirus).”

Deputy Athletic Director Chris McIntosh said the decision is not final, but rather wanted to give fans an idea at the hopes for the upcoming season. 

“Based on the realities of COVID-19, we’ve been forced to put those factors on hold and focus on health and safety,” he said. “That’s where our priority will be moving forward, even if it leads us to more painful decision like the ones we’ve had to make in the past.”

McIntosh said while the hope is to fill the stadium each game, there is still a chance capacity could be limited should the situation surrounding Coronavirus worsen.

“The impact of having even say, 15-20,000 people will have a pronounced impact on our community,” Ilstrup said. “Not just on the local businesses where they’ll be spending money, but I think on our total community.”