Researchers from UD Studying Economic Impact of Firefly on Delaw - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Researchers from UD Studying Economic Impact of Firefly on Delaware

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - The final note has sounded. The last raucous applause has died off. Another Firefly Music Festival is in the books in Dover.

The now-annual event brought 30,000 people to Dover in 2012, 65,000 in 2013, and this year it was 80,000. And all those people brought a whole lot of money with them to the First State.

The question is - just exactly how much money?

The state tossed around the number $12 million after year one. Festival organizers are saying perhaps $24 million from last year. But the fact is nobody is quite sure, and the state and festival want to change that.

There's no denying 80,000 people is a lot of people. But what kind of economic impact can a bunch of young adults playing beer pong, can jam and listening to indie rock music really have on Delaware?

Joanne Yoo, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware, was at Firefly this weekend working on an answer along with a team of student researchers.

"They are actually walking around the site," she said. "We are looking not just at the money people spend on the festival site. We are also looking at how much they spend before they come here. But the money has to be spent within Delaware."

A grant from the state Department of Economic Development is funding this study.

Yoo says they're examining the festival's impact on direct and follow-up jobs created, salary, wage and income created, total production value added to the area and finally additional taxes contributed to the government.

She adds looking around just Dover the economic impact is obvious - at gas stations, hotels, grocery stores.

"I went to the local Acme store. They're buying food and water. That's the economic impact - all the money they spend off-site."

It's an impact Greg Bostrom, director of the festival, is eager to get a better gauge of.

"Other events in their maturity of a similar size are upwards of $50 million per event. There are some events that have $200 million in impact that are similar in scope and size to Firefly," he said. "We're excited to just know once and for all what the impact is on community."

There's still a ton of work left to do before Yoo and her team have their answer. But she was willing to give WBOC her initial guess.

"I take a very conservative approach, but I can say about $20 million is created just by having Firefly Music Festival here. But we have to wait until we finish the analysis."

Economic and tourism officials have talked a lot about the impact Firefly has on building Delaware's nationwide reputation. That's an important effect but also one that's difficult to quantify. And Yoo says it's not part of what her researchers are studying.

Festival organizers announced Friday the 2015 event will happen June 18-21. Tickets actually go on sale Wednesday. They are $199 for a four-day pass to the festival in Dover.

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