Full pull for economy

File photo.

Every August the sounds of National Tractor Pulling Championships fill the air in Bowling Green.
More than 50,000 fans crowd into the Wood County Fairgrounds for three days of truck and tractor pulling
competition.
And while the sounds of the national pull may be disturbing to some, there is no denying the event has a
massive effect economically on Bowling Green and Wood County.
A conservative estimate of the total economic impact of the pull for 2013 was $33.8 million, according to
a study done by Hedges and Company. The firm is based in Hudson, Ohio, and is an automotive industry
aftermarket research and strategic planning firm.
The study was discussed Monday evening by Julie Hedges, members of the board of directors of the
Northwestern Ohio Tractor Pullers Association (NWOTPA), as well as city and county government officials.
The study was done last year at the 47th annual pull, which was named the national pull of the year by
the National Tractor Pullers Association.
"It was just an opportunity to get a handle on what impact does this really have on the community so
we can pursue local business sponsorship, and national sponsorship dollars," Mike Ott, the
president of the board of directors for the NWOTPA, said about the decision to do the study. "It’s
a concrete number that actually means something. In the past it’s always been an estimate, a guess …
It’s really put some real credit to what the real numbers, and the real value of the event is."
Ott said he was not surprised at the findings, but it was nice to see it coming together, and equal that
kind of dollar value.
"We are trying to generate interest on a national level of here’s what it does, and this is what it
can generate," Ott said. "It’s an event that has a tractor pull. There is more than just a lot
of noise and racket. There are activities. There are museums, there are toy shows, trade shows, food
vendors, free concerts, and free fan appreciation days.
"We haven’t raised ticket prices in eight years; we’re trying to keep it a fan-friendly good-valued
event."
The $33.8 million figure does not include $250,000 in operating expenses, $1.7 million in event expenses,
and the money raised by Make-A-Wish, and other volunteer organizations in the area which benefit from
the pull. The NWOTPA also put $700,000 into grandstand improvements at the fairgrounds.
"I knew the numbers were great, but I don’t think any of us had any idea that they were this
great," said Wendy Stram, the executive director of the Bowling Green Convention and Visitors
Bureau. "I don’t think anybody thinks about the local church that’s bringing in this revenue every
year, and it becomes a part of their budget. There is a big opportunity for the community, and I think
we take if for granted."
Stram, who calls the national pull the "Indy 500" of tractor pulling, said the monetary numbers
from the study show the community the event is a big deal.
"We are bringing people from all over the world," Stram said.
Hedges worked on a survey which generated 940 responses, including on-site interviews, and phone
interviews with local businesses. A total of 96 percent of event guests rated their experience as
excellent or very good, and no one reported a poor experience.
"We have a good representative sample of the number of people who attended," Hedges said.
"We actually went above and beyond on this one, because we did on-site surveys and interviews, and
we also did phone interviews.
"We really attacked it at a lot of difference levels."
In getting to the $33.8 million figure, the study combined the amount spent in seven areas of expenses,
including fuel, food, drinks, hotel/camping, souvenirs, shopping, and gratuities. That total was $20.9
million. The amount spent at the pull, including tickets and merchandise was $1.5 million.
The combined total of $22.4 million was then multiplied by 1.5 which resulted in the $33.8 million
figure.
The 1.5 economic multiplier was termed "conservative" by Hedges. The figure means for every $1
spent, an additional 50 cents was generated in economic impact.
"These numbers will help establish credibility in some people’s minds," about the NWOTPA,
Hedges said. "It will also show the value, and open more opportunities for them as an association
for sponsorships, and so on."