published Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Bonnaroo may generate more than $51 million for Manchester and Tennessee

  • photo
    A time lapse photo puts bright colors from the ferris wheel spinning behind the Planet Roo statue during the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., on June 9, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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This year's 12th annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is estimated to generate more than $51 million for Manchester, Tenn., Coffee County and the state, according to a study based on the 2012 festival's impact.

Manchester, a small and usually quiet town, will be transformed into the seventh-largest city in the state when 80,000 Bonnaroo attendees from all 50 states and overseas come to the festival's 700-acre farm site for the festival.

"By bringing together individuals from around the world, Bonnaroo organizers have created a phenomenon that directly enriches the Tennessee locals who host them," said Daniel Kah, who oversaw the study by Greyhill Advisors about the economic impact of Bonnaroo 2012.

The study released Monday found the festival generated $36 million in direct expenditures by attendees (money spent on things such as gas, food and hotels) before, during and after the 2012 event. It also generated $15 million in indirect and induced economic activity, or money spent by people who have increased earnings as a result of the money made by the festival.

The combined total of direct and indirect expenditures in 2012 was $51.1 million statewide. The study estimated that the economic impact in Coffee County alone was more than $37 million.

In addition to drawing tens of thousands of people who help boost the local and statewide economies, Bonnaroo is part of an innovative revenue-sharing initiative allowing local organizations to receive a percentage of sales made during the festival. Those vendors received more than $200,000.

"We pride ourselves on bringing together the best mix of vendors of any festival," Jeff Cuellar, Bonnaroo community relations director, said. "We are a city, an eclectic city at that. I would say our offerings of food, beverages, crafts and more rival most major cities in the U.S."

Nearly $2 million in local and state tax revenue was generated from ticket sales.

"Bonnaroo plays a major role in our local community, both through an invigorated economy and through its charitable contributions," Coffee County Mayor David Pennington said. "But it goes much deeper than that. Bonnaroo means more to Coffee County than economic stimulus, media coverage and tourism; our entire community is very proud that we are a part of something with an international scope."

Bonnaroo also has been growing in site improvements. For instance, this year a dozen water wells and permanent electrical power have been added to the farm where the festival is held. And the farm may be used for many other events in the future.

One event already scheduled there is The Great American Mud Run, which is expected to host more than 5,000 participants July 27.

Contact staff writer Kelsey Graham at kelsey leighg@aol.com.

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