March Madness Expected to Bring Atlanta $70 Million While US Businesses Lose $134 Million in Productivity

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    When the Final Four hits the Georgia Dome in April, the overall economic impact is expected to be around $70 million to the Atlanta area. That’s the good news. For bosses and business owners around the country, though, there is some pretty serious bad news.

    A new survey estimates that the NCAA’s annual March Madness college basketball tournament will cost American businesses an estimated $134 million in lost productivity during the first two days of the tournament. That’s $67 million a day.

    The survey found that nearly one-third of workers spend at least three hours per day following the tournament during work hours.

    The firm estimates that the cost March Madness American comes to American companies in the form of “lost wages” over the first two days of the Tournament, as an estimated 3.0 million employees spend one to three hours following the basketball games instead of working.

    Despite the seemingly large number John Challenger, chief executive officer at Challenger, Gray & Christmas, downplayed the loss, saying that government policies will have a much bigger impact on the economy in the coming days.

    “At the end of the day, March Madness will not even register as a blip in the overall economy. Sequestration is going to have a far bigger impact,” said Challenger in a news release. “Will March Madness even have an effect on a company’s bottom line? Not at all.”

    Challenger did warn, though, that it will be a trying time for managers and supervisors concerned with workplace efficiency.

    “Starting the day after selection Sunday, people will be organizing office pools, researching teams and planning viewing parties,” he said. “When the games begin around noon, eastern time, on Thursday, many companies will probably notice a significant drop in Internet speeds, as employees start streaming games and clogging up the network’s bandwidth.”

    A survey just released by MSN and Impulse Research found that 66 percent of workers will be following March Madness during work hours, with 20 percent expecting to spend one to two hours following games, 14 percent spending three to four hours, and 16 percent saying they will spend five hours or more watching games instead of working.

    Fortunately for businesses in the city of Atlanta and the metro area, that money will likely be funneling right back to them in April. The Final Four tournament weekend (April 6-8) at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta is expected to bring 100,000 out-of-town guests, who will book an estimated 10,000 hotel rooms for an overall economic impact estimated at $70 million.

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