Exhibit A in the Gate´s tourism economy

So the Olympic-size rink has been thawed and drained. The hotel beds have been turned over and all that’s left to do is count up the $30 million or so of “economic impact” money that rained down on the city as our due for hosting the 2011 US Figure Skating Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum.

What’s that you say? Your pockets are still empty, even after nine days and nights of figure skating and the throngs it delivered to our fair burg?

Well it’s only natural to wonder what happened to your cut of the take, considering that the event was held at the city-owned coliseum, that it was sold as an economic engine for the city and that highlights of the event were on the TV all weekend long — big money in television, don’t you know.

But the simple truth is that it doesn’t work like that. The $30 million figure that has been floated in some media circles comes from ticket sales, projected hotel occupancy, rental cars and sales tax on things like gasoline and restaurant checks.

Big events like the skating competition have cachet all their own; the city benefits from the intangibles.

And, truth be told, preliminary attendance figures show we may have fallen a bit short on the projected numbers.

And that, believe it or not, is okay. Frankly, we don’t think events like the figure skating championships should be pitched to city residents as a windfall — though that’s exactly what it is. Anytime anything is scheduled in the city — be it basketball tournament or marketing convention or family reunion, the city does better financially than it would have had the event taken place in, say, Charlottesville, Va., even if only marginally so.

Big events like the skating competition have cachet all their own; the city benefits from the intangibles that come with national television coverage, a swell in tourism and the opportunity to host folks who otherwise would likely never even have heard of Greensboro, let alone come to visit for a few days.

Tourism is not a major industry in the Triad, and without event like the US Figure Skating Championships, would barely exist at all.

People don’t travel hundreds of miles for water parks or historical villages, or even for monster trucks.

And though we know the nay-sayers and boosters will debate the circumstances for weeks — if not years — afterwards, we suggest a different take.

For nine days we were the center of the US figure skating world.

We put on a nice event; people had a good time. We may even have come out ahead on it. And we got to be on TV.

That, these days, is enough.

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