News / Calgary

Garth Brooks shows not an economic booster for Calgary: Expert

The popular musician is a huge draw, but that money has to come from somewhere

Garth Brooks, pictured here with Trisha Yearwood, has sold out seven concerts in Calgary.

Canadian Press

Garth Brooks, pictured here with Trisha Yearwood, has sold out seven concerts in Calgary.

Garth Brooks has sold out an astounding seven concerts in Calgary – but it may not be the economic boost it’s touted to be elsewhere in the province.

In Edmonton, the country megastar has slotted nine shows. The City of Edmonton and the Oilers Entertainment Group announced that the sold-out concerts have generated $42 million into the local economy.

For Calgarians hoping to hear similar good news about our city, local economists feel the Edmonton’s claims are a bit dubius.

“I am extremely sceptical about these types of economic impact analyses, particularly when commissioned by parties with a vested interest in the outcome of the study,” said U of C Economic associated professor Arvid Magesan. “There are a lot of assumptions that go into these EIAs that are not very transparent and are not really part of the discussion when the final number gets thrown around in the media.”

Fellow U of C economist Trevor Tombe concurred, saying those numbers may be based around tickets and merchandise sold at the events, but they don’t take into account where that money originally comes from.

“Those represent household expenditures that could have otherwise been used elsewhere,” he explained. “So, a concert like this really shifts spending across sectors.”

Tombe said they only way the concerts would be a net-positive for Calgary is if there were a ton of people coming from out of town to inject money into the local economy.

As it stands, it’s more akin to people spending at one place rather than another – it’s still the same amount going into the economy overall.

Tombe and Magesan said these numbers often come up during arena debates, but shouldn’t have significant influence on the discussion.

The same can be said with sporting events.

Also, the fact that Brooks tickets sold out an astronomical rate can’t be taken as a sign of economic improvement.

“I wouldn’t read to much into it beyond Garth Brooks being a popular draw,” Tombe laughed.

Essentially, people just really love Garth Brooks.

More on