A recent economic impact study revealed the 500 Festival events generate a significant tangible economic impact on the city of Indianapolis each year. In 2013, this amounted to $19.7 million in financial impact, including $5.5 million of direct spending by out-of-area visitors.
Each year hundreds of thousands of people from around the world embrace the month of May in Indianapolis. Last year alone, more than 500,000 people attended nearly 50 events and programs produced by the 500 Festival. The 500 Festival celebrates the spirit and legacy of the largest single-day sporting event in the world, the Indianapolis 500®. Enriching the lives of Hoosiers and visitors, 500 Festival events which are mostly free and produced largely by volunteers also enhance the image of Indianapolis and Indiana by showcasing the city and state’s cultural, educational and social benefits to the world.
With the 500 Festival producing reoccurring events in Indianapolis since 1957, the overall economic benefit to the city since its inception is estimated to be more than $400 million. Based on current growth rates, the impact of the 500 Festival is likely to be greater than $210 million in this decade (2010-2020) alone. A significant contributor to the economic benefit is the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and 500 Festival 5K runs which collectively attract more than 30,000 participants on the first Saturday of every May. The “Indy Mini” is one of the largest half marathon races in the country and is one of the top five largest in the world.
In addition to measurements of economic impact in terms of dollars, the 500 Festival in 2013 created an estimated 215 jobs (15 directly by the organization, 62 from payments to vendors and contractors and 138 as a result of visitor spending). Furthermore, the 500 Festival organization and events generated an estimated $950,000 in additional state and local taxes in 2013.
There are a number of economic benefits that are not easily measured, therefore, were not included in this estimation including, but not limited to:
- Spending by local residents who attend or participate in 500 Festival events such as the AES 500 Festival Parade and OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon
- Health benefits of 17,000 local residents training for and participating in the Mini-Marathon
- Attracting visitors to Indianapolis that may return for other reasons
- The 500 Festival events are designed in part to help promote the Indianapolis 500®, which in turn may increase awareness and attendance of the race
The 500 Festival Economic Impact study was authored by Kyle J. Anderson, Economist at the Kelley School of Business.