SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah has reported that Ute football has brought millions of dollars into the state's economy since the move to the Pacific-12 Conference.
University of Utah researchers said the move to the Pac-12 in 2011 doubled the ticket sales to football games with earnings around $6.6 million. The tougher competition has drawn more fans and created bigger games for the Utes, according to analysts.
"It's been hard to find tickets, especially for like a family package," said Utes fan Danny Flores. "I used to buy Ute stuff, but now that they're the Pac-12, I want to get that emblem that says 'Pac-12.' "
Employees at the Ute merchandise store, The Red Zone, said that the Pac-12 move has launched their sales as well.
"We get people from all around the Pac-12 that come in that want a hat or a t-shirt that has the 'U' on it," said The Red Zone marketing manager Hilary Dent.
Their sales increased so much that three new locations were added around the Salt Lake Valley to sell Ute merchandise to fans.
"It's wonderful for our state," said University of Utah Center for Public Policy representative Jennifer Robinson. "We saw about $10.3 million in revenue from just joining the Pac-12. The fans come out and travel and spend a lot of money. Last year, we estimated they spend $2.3 million while they were here in Salt Lake."
TV revenues have also increased to around $8 million. However, many fans may not notice the increase in sales for the Utes — they just want the team to do well.
"Just wish the team could do better, you know, and maybe go to a nice bowl game," Flores said.
According to the Center for Public Policy, the ticket sales and merchandise supports about 275 jobs, and over $600,000 in state revenue as taxes.