Cricket fans, seen here buying souvenirs at the Eisenhower Park stadium...

Cricket fans, seen here buying souvenirs at the Eisenhower Park stadium on June 1, were expected to bring as much as $160 million in economic benefits to the region, but some economists were skeptical the impact would be that high. Credit: Howard Schnapp

When cricket’s World Cup came to Long Island this month, Nassau County officials said nine matches played at a temporary stadium in Eisenhower Park would generate as much as $160 million in regional economic impact. 

But sports economists said the purported windfall was likely to be smaller, with few lasting benefits, partly because many of the fans who attended matches were locals who would have spent their money locally anyway. 

“Economists who study these kinds of super-events, or mega-events … found they aren’t big promoters of the local economies,” said Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Nassau's economics were brighter than they would otherwise have been, he said, because tournament organizers, not taxpayers, paid for the stadium, which carried a reported price tag of around $30 million. But “any claim this is an engine for economic development and long-term employment just doesn't make sense,” Zimbalist said.

International Cricket Council officials put total attendance for Nassau's matches, played June 1-12, at 156,719, including a sold-out June 9 match between archrivals India and Pakistan, with 34,028 fans in the stadium. Before the tournament began, they said they expected a total of 20,000 to 30,000 international fans, but they have not updated those numbers. 

Nassau spokesman Chris Boyle did not provide underlying data for the estimate of $150 million-$160 million of economic impact. That estimate was based on the impact of a cricket World Cup in Australia two years ago, Darcy Belyea, the county’s commissioner of parks, recreation and museums, told Newsday in May. 

Boyle said some data that would quantify the tournament’s economic impact, like sales and hotel occupancy tax revenue, were not yet available.

Newsday requested, but has not received, records of county spending associated with the event, including personnel costs from police and parks and public works departments. 

Boyle has said spending for personnel costs would be more than covered by payments to the county from T20 World Cup USA, the Delaware-registered nonprofit with tournament hosting rights. A 2023 agreement between the county and T20 imposed no fee for use of county parkland but stipulated that T20 pay the county $125,000 per match to reimburse for match-day staffing. T20 must also pay the county net parking revenue from fans who drove to the matches. 

Zimbalist and two other sports economists, Victor Matheson at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Dennis Coates at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said the breakdown of local versus traveling fans was key. For locals, “the money being spent is money that’s not being spent elsewhere” on other local leisure activities, Matheson said.

Jobs generated by super-events tend to be “short-term, low-income,” Zimbalist said. 

Coates raised the issue of “leakage.”

Because some fans likely spent money on lodging, restaurants and experiences outside Nassau, their economic impact on the county was likely diluted, Coates said. Suffolk County and New York City, for example, gave up none of their parkland during the prime summer season but absorbed some fans’ dollars.

Nassau officials were not alone in predicting cricket riches.

In early June, Anderson Economic Group, a consulting firm based in East Lansing, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, predicted that the India-Pakistan match alone would generate $79 million for the New York City metro region, based on estimated ticket sales for a near-capacity crowd, spending on food, lodging, transportation and stadium construction, along with additional indirect impact when that spending circulated in the local economy. 

Anderson analysts assumed 40% of attendees were local, 50% were overnight domestic travelers and 10% international travelers, who tend to spend the most. The firm has conducted estimates for other major sports events but was not connected to this one.

Coates and Matheson called the $79 million estimate improbable. Matheson homed in on one component of that top-line number, a $5.6 million estimate for non-attendee spending, mostly at watch parties. “The only way that works is if those people would have been fasting” had they not attended a watch party, he said. 

Some merchants and trade groups nevertheless described healthy business upticks during the tournament.

Shan Shaheen, owner of Shaheen, a Pakistani restaurant in Hicksville and chair of the New York South Asian Chamber of Commerce, said his restaurant and others that fed fans on days when South Asian teams were playing had benefited. 

“Hicksville was like the area to be,” Shaheen said. “There were people from Austin, Boston, Dubai. People were actually coming to the restaurant from different areas.”

Frank Borrelli, who runs Borrelli’s, an Italian restaurant on Hempstead Turnpike near Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, said the tournament had turned afternoons — usually slow after the lunch rush — into a busy time. He didn’t hire anybody new but added staff hours to keep pace.

“I’m all for tourism in the area,” Borrelli said.

At nearby Burger City, owner Jim Roggio said the bump could have been bigger.

“I’m not going to be negative, but I’m not going to jump up and down,” he said. Some police officers patrolling the area came in for lunch, but he also lost sales because of road closures, he said. He also said many India fans — those who were practicing Hindus at least — had little interest in a menu tilted heavily toward beef hamburgers.

By Tuesday, the eve of the U.S.-India match, which drew 31,219 fans, second-highest of the tournament for Nassau, many hotels near the stadium were sold out, said Dorothy Roberts, president of the Long Island Hospitality Association. “Right now, it looks very promising,” Roberts said.

Countywide, occupancy rates for the first half of June ranged from 85% to full, but even without a cricket tournament, June is generally a good month for hotels on Long Island, she said. Occupancy rates were 78% to 82% for the same period last year. Rates at hotels near the stadium were up anywhere from 20% to more than 100% what they were last year.

There were some indications that transportation spending increased during Nassau matches.

For the India-Pakistan match, held on a Sunday, when rail traffic is typically light, 6,947 people bought Long Island Rail Road tickets to or from Westbury, the rail station nearest the stadium, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. That was more than six times the number of tickets sold for that station on the same day last year.

Aircraft tracking information from Flight Aware showed there were hundreds more flights in and out of Republic Airport in East Farmingdale on and around match day than in previous years. While traffic has been high for most of the year, on that Sunday some of the planes flying in were from out-of-state airports, according to Flight Aware, and some carried cricket fans. Bobby Schmidgall, general manager of Republic Jet Center, a company that provides support services to luxury private jets at the airport, said he saw a “big uplift” in business, though he declined to provide numbers. 

Each arrival meant a potential injection of money into the local economy from purchases of fuel and amenities, though apparently little spending on lodging. “They want faster access to the stadium,” Schmidgall said. “They came the day of the game, left the day of the game.”

But, as economist Matheson said, “for every India-Pakistan, there’s an Ireland-Canada.” That match attracted a mere 5,153 fans, and by his own, unscientific estimate — he bought a ticket and struck up conversations with people sitting around him — few people traveled from outside the metro area to watch.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman also has said the tournament would build the county's brand.

“If you’ve got a great product and nobody knows about it, you’re not going to sell anything, and we’re selling Nassau County as a destination,” he said last winter.

The county's agreement with T20 called for the venue to be called the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium and for the county seal to be “prominently displayed” at the stadium. While cricket officials have said the global audience for World Cup matches can reach into the hundreds of millions, marketing benefits for the county are difficult to quantify.

The cricket World Cup has moved on, and the final rounds will be played in the Caribbean later this month. Nassau may no longer be the world's cricket capital, but Coates said that didn’t mean hosting the tournament was a bad idea.

“Don’t host the event on the belief this will be some sort of enormous economic development boon,” he said. “Do it because you believe supporting international sports competitions is the right thing to do.

“Do it because you believe lots of your local residents value that particular activity and would derive a great deal of happiness from that activity.”

When cricket’s World Cup came to Long Island this month, Nassau County officials said nine matches played at a temporary stadium in Eisenhower Park would generate as much as $160 million in regional economic impact. 

But sports economists said the purported windfall was likely to be smaller, with few lasting benefits, partly because many of the fans who attended matches were locals who would have spent their money locally anyway. 

“Economists who study these kinds of super-events, or mega-events … found they aren’t big promoters of the local economies,” said Andrew Zimbalist of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Nassau's economics were brighter than they would otherwise have been, he said, because tournament organizers, not taxpayers, paid for the stadium, which carried a reported price tag of around $30 million. But “any claim this is an engine for economic development and long-term employment just doesn't make sense,” Zimbalist said.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Nassau County officials put the economic impact of cricket World Cup matches held in the county this month at up to $160 million, but sports economists were skeptical.
  • A key issue is that spending by local fans doesn’t necessarily add economic activity, since they would spend their money locally anyway.
  • Local businesspeople said they got a healthy, if not staggering boost during the matches, which were played June 1-12.

International Cricket Council officials put total attendance for Nassau's matches, played June 1-12, at 156,719, including a sold-out June 9 match between archrivals India and Pakistan, with 34,028 fans in the stadium. Before the tournament began, they said they expected a total of 20,000 to 30,000 international fans, but they have not updated those numbers. 

Nassau spokesman Chris Boyle did not provide underlying data for the estimate of $150 million-$160 million of economic impact. That estimate was based on the impact of a cricket World Cup in Australia two years ago, Darcy Belyea, the county’s commissioner of parks, recreation and museums, told Newsday in May. 

Boyle said some data that would quantify the tournament’s economic impact, like sales and hotel occupancy tax revenue, were not yet available.

Newsday requested, but has not received, records of county spending associated with the event, including personnel costs from police and parks and public works departments. 

Boyle has said spending for personnel costs would be more than covered by payments to the county from T20 World Cup USA, the Delaware-registered nonprofit with tournament hosting rights. A 2023 agreement between the county and T20 imposed no fee for use of county parkland but stipulated that T20 pay the county $125,000 per match to reimburse for match-day staffing. T20 must also pay the county net parking revenue from fans who drove to the matches. 

Where fans spent money is key

Zimbalist and two other sports economists, Victor Matheson at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Dennis Coates at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said the breakdown of local versus traveling fans was key. For locals, “the money being spent is money that’s not being spent elsewhere” on other local leisure activities, Matheson said.

Jobs generated by super-events tend to be “short-term, low-income,” Zimbalist said. 

Coates raised the issue of “leakage.”

Because some fans likely spent money on lodging, restaurants and experiences outside Nassau, their economic impact on the county was likely diluted, Coates said. Suffolk County and New York City, for example, gave up none of their parkland during the prime summer season but absorbed some fans’ dollars.

The direct economic impact to the region from cricket fans,...

The direct economic impact to the region from cricket fans, seen here at the India-Bangladesh practice match at Eisenhower Park on June 1, won't be known for some time. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau officials were not alone in predicting cricket riches.

In early June, Anderson Economic Group, a consulting firm based in East Lansing, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, predicted that the India-Pakistan match alone would generate $79 million for the New York City metro region, based on estimated ticket sales for a near-capacity crowd, spending on food, lodging, transportation and stadium construction, along with additional indirect impact when that spending circulated in the local economy. 

Anderson analysts assumed 40% of attendees were local, 50% were overnight domestic travelers and 10% international travelers, who tend to spend the most. The firm has conducted estimates for other major sports events but was not connected to this one.

Coates and Matheson called the $79 million estimate improbable. Matheson homed in on one component of that top-line number, a $5.6 million estimate for non-attendee spending, mostly at watch parties. “The only way that works is if those people would have been fasting” had they not attended a watch party, he said. 

Local businesses benefited, some say

Some merchants and trade groups nevertheless described healthy business upticks during the tournament.

Shan Shaheen, owner of Shaheen, a Pakistani restaurant in Hicksville and chair of the New York South Asian Chamber of Commerce, said his restaurant and others that fed fans on days when South Asian teams were playing had benefited. 

“Hicksville was like the area to be,” Shaheen said. “There were people from Austin, Boston, Dubai. People were actually coming to the restaurant from different areas.”

Frank Borrelli, who runs Borrelli’s, an Italian restaurant on Hempstead Turnpike near Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, said the tournament had turned afternoons — usually slow after the lunch rush — into a busy time. He didn’t hire anybody new but added staff hours to keep pace.

“I’m all for tourism in the area,” Borrelli said.

At nearby Burger City, owner Jim Roggio said the bump could have been bigger.

“I’m not going to be negative, but I’m not going to jump up and down,” he said. Some police officers patrolling the area came in for lunch, but he also lost sales because of road closures, he said. He also said many India fans — those who were practicing Hindus at least — had little interest in a menu tilted heavily toward beef hamburgers.

Initial figures look 'very promising'

By Tuesday, the eve of the U.S.-India match, which drew 31,219 fans, second-highest of the tournament for Nassau, many hotels near the stadium were sold out, said Dorothy Roberts, president of the Long Island Hospitality Association. “Right now, it looks very promising,” Roberts said.

Countywide, occupancy rates for the first half of June ranged from 85% to full, but even without a cricket tournament, June is generally a good month for hotels on Long Island, she said. Occupancy rates were 78% to 82% for the same period last year. Rates at hotels near the stadium were up anywhere from 20% to more than 100% what they were last year.

There were some indications that transportation spending increased during Nassau matches.

For the India-Pakistan match, held on a Sunday, when rail traffic is typically light, 6,947 people bought Long Island Rail Road tickets to or from Westbury, the rail station nearest the stadium, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. That was more than six times the number of tickets sold for that station on the same day last year.

Aircraft tracking information from Flight Aware showed there were hundreds more flights in and out of Republic Airport in East Farmingdale on and around match day than in previous years. While traffic has been high for most of the year, on that Sunday some of the planes flying in were from out-of-state airports, according to Flight Aware, and some carried cricket fans. Bobby Schmidgall, general manager of Republic Jet Center, a company that provides support services to luxury private jets at the airport, said he saw a “big uplift” in business, though he declined to provide numbers. 

Each arrival meant a potential injection of money into the local economy from purchases of fuel and amenities, though apparently little spending on lodging. “They want faster access to the stadium,” Schmidgall said. “They came the day of the game, left the day of the game.”

But, as economist Matheson said, “for every India-Pakistan, there’s an Ireland-Canada.” That match attracted a mere 5,153 fans, and by his own, unscientific estimate — he bought a ticket and struck up conversations with people sitting around him — few people traveled from outside the metro area to watch.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman also has said the tournament would build the county's brand.

“If you’ve got a great product and nobody knows about it, you’re not going to sell anything, and we’re selling Nassau County as a destination,” he said last winter.

The county's agreement with T20 called for the venue to be called the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium and for the county seal to be “prominently displayed” at the stadium. While cricket officials have said the global audience for World Cup matches can reach into the hundreds of millions, marketing benefits for the county are difficult to quantify.

Benefits reaped from hosting World Cup

The cricket World Cup has moved on, and the final rounds will be played in the Caribbean later this month. Nassau may no longer be the world's cricket capital, but Coates said that didn’t mean hosting the tournament was a bad idea.

“Don’t host the event on the belief this will be some sort of enormous economic development boon,” he said. “Do it because you believe supporting international sports competitions is the right thing to do.

“Do it because you believe lots of your local residents value that particular activity and would derive a great deal of happiness from that activity.”

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

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