BR benefiting from three economy-stimulating events

One down, two to go.

By the time the last of the record 135,000 Bayou Country Superfest 2014 fans left Tiger Stadium on Sunday night, organizers of the Miss USA pageant and a major soccer tournament already were busy preparing their economy-stimulating events in Baton Rouge.

The expanded three-day Superfest smashed its own 5-year-old attendance record of 85,000. Coming next are all the participants, family, fans and television viewers of the Miss USA pageant’s worldwide broadcast June 8 from the River Center, followed by the 11-state U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Championships from June 19-26, expected to attract 20,000 people.

Hotel managers are noticing increased business from those events.

“Adding that Friday night (to Superfest) was a big help,” said Khalid Daifallah, acting general manager at Hotel Indigo. “We were sold out Friday and Saturday.”

Reservations already are increasing for the weeks of the Miss USA competition and soccer championships, Daifallah said.

“The mix of these events is really beneficial,” he added.

In short, things are popping in Baton Rouge in ways that some officials say are valuable to the city today and in the future.

Promoters estimate the three events combined are worth more than $50 million for the Baton Rouge area.

Earlier this year, Superfest success was a near certainty in the view of Paul Arrigo, president and chief executive officer of Visit Baton Rouge. He also noted the rapid approach of the Miss USA and 11-state soccer events.

Arrigo said Baton Rouge has never before hosted three such large events back-to-back-to-back in late May and June.

SUPERFEST: The 50,000 additional Superfest fans meant substantially more money for the Indigo and other Baton Rouge-area hotels, restaurants and gas stations last week than in past years.

Quint Davis, chief executive officer of event organizer Festival Productions Inc.-New Orleans, accurately predicted before the first ticketholders approached the LSU campus May 23 they would erase the attendance record.

The inaugural two-day Superfest in 2010 attracted the old record of 85,000 music lovers and $12 million in economic benefits to Baton Rouge, Davis said.

Davis also said those numbers were from an economic impact study done on the 2010 event. He said the same study showed Baton Rouge’s $12 million was part of a statewide Superfest impact of $35.5 million.

Without knowing that 135,000 people would pay their way into Tiger Stadium this year, Davis estimated Superfest 2014 may have boosted the event’s economic impact on Baton Rouge to “anywhere from $15 million to $20 million.”

Davis added this week, through spokesman Matthew Goldman, the range of $15 million to $20 million was a “conservative estimate based on (the) past impact study.”

Neither Davis nor Goldman would release sales figures for Superfest tickets and concessions.

Katie Guasco, Visit Baton Rouge’s communications director, said Thursday the financial impact of Superfest 2014 was partially visible in hotel occupancy, rates and revenue numbers for May 23.

None of the four previous Superfest productions included any events on a Friday.

For the first Friday in Superfest history, with crowds drawn by headliner George Strait and others, Baton Rouge-area hotel occupancy was recorded at 93.1 percent by STR Day Trends, Guasco said. For the same Friday in 2013, lacking any Superfest acts to draw visitors, she said the occupancy rate was 45.5 percent lower.

The reports Guasco quoted do not include restaurant and bar sales.

Those room reports, though, revealed the Superfest hordes found their average daily hotel rate on May 23 had increased 34.7 percent to $116.39 over the same day a year earlier, Guasco added.

And area hotel owners saw their combined daily room revenue nearly double to $1.22 million that Friday as opposed to the non-Superfest Friday a year ago.

The Superfest hotel room figures for Saturday also were significantly higher this year — just not as jaw-dropping as those for Friday. That’s because they were compared to the numbers for last year’s Superfest Saturday.

Guasco reported hotel occupancy at 94.2 percent last Saturday, a bump of 4.2 percent over the same day last year.

The average daily room rate last Saturday was $117.38. Guasco reported that was 13.9 percent higher than the average room rate a year earlier.

For the Baton Rouge area, hotel room revenue totaled nearly $1.25 million last Saturday, an increase of 21.1 percent over the total recorded a year earlier.

Reports on Sunday’s hotel-room revenue won’t be received until next week, Guasco said.

But six-year-old figures for Friday and Saturday hotel room revenue were revealing.

Compared to the same day in 2009, the year before Bayou Country Superfest was born, hotel room revenue for Friday, May 23, grew by 299 percent, Guasco said. She said last Saturday’s area hotel room revenue was 287 percent greater than it was six years earlier.

MISS USA: More than a week before the Miss USA pageant June 8, contestants have met Louisiana’s first lady, Supriya Jindal, at the Governor’s Mansion and on the mall leading to the state Capitol.

Erin Brady, Miss USA 2013, and all 51 contestants seeking this year’s crown were scheduled to converge Friday night at Boudreaux and Thibodeaux’s, 214 Third St., for a karaoke battle.

Guasco, of Visit Baton Rouge, noted that the Miss Universe Organization, parent of the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants, valued last year’s Miss USA contest in Las Vegas at more than $20 million.

Guasco said that valuation reflected attention drawn to Las Vegas by the pageant’s prime-time transmission to all 50 states and nearly 70 countries.

Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, said the city and surrounding area “will undoubtedly benefit from national and international interest in the Miss USA pageant.”

Added Knapp: “While the economic impact of the event is difficult to calculate at this time, there will be direct and significant impact to local businesses.”

Baton Rouge hosted the 2005 Miss Teen USA pageant, Guasco noted. She said that pageant generated more than 3,000 hotel room rentals in the area and added that payments for those rooms totaled more than $200,000.

The 1997 and 1998 Miss USA pageants were held in Shreveport.

Three Louisiana women have held the title of Miss USA.

Eurlyne “Arlene” Howell, of Delhi in Richland Parish, was the 1958 winner. She later had roles in several television series and specials of the 1950s and 1960s.

Sharon Brown, of both Waterproof in Tensas Parish and Minden in Webster Parish, was awarded the crown in 1961 and later worked as an actress and model in New York.

Ali Landry, of Breaux Bridge in St. Martin Parish, won the title in 1996. Landry has acted in movies and television shows.

Brittany Guidry, of Houma, is the current Miss Louisiana USA and will contend for the title of Miss USA on June 8.

Dara Busch, executive vice president and managing director of Rubenstein Public Relations, confirmed that Donald J. Trump, who owns the pageant in a joint venture with NBCUniversal, will appear at the Baton Rouge contest.

Miss USA officials announced that entertainers at the pageant will include recording artists Florida Georgia Line, Nelly, Marc Broussard and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band Horns.

Giuliana Rancic and Thomas Roberts were identified as the pageant’s hosts.

SOCCER: More than 200 soccer teams will converge on Baton Rouge on June 26 for a weeklong series of regional competitions that could send a sturdy few on to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship games in July in Germantown, Maryland.

As many as 20,000 teen athletes, family members, coaches and friends are expected in Baton Rouge from around the state and from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The regional games at BREC’s Burbank Soccer Complex could have a $20 million impact on the local economy, according to estimates released earlier this year by the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation.

“Without question, it’s going to be the biggest soccer event we’ve had in this community,” Jerry Stoval, BRASF’s president and CEO, said this week.

Stovall credited Mayor-President Kip Holden, BREC and Baton Rouge Soccer Club volunteers for developing the Burbank complex into a magnet for the regional championships.

“This is fun,” Stovall said. “It was a lot of work for a lot of people, but we’re excited about this.”