Gammage Broadway brings local economies $55 million

ASU Gammage is looking to bring even more Broadway shows to Tempe this year. This past season, 250,000 Broadway enthusiasts attended shows such as "Wicked" and "West Side Story" at Gammage. (Photo by Jenn Allen)

Last season, ASU Gammage Broadway shows generated enormous revenue for the local economy, and they’re looking to do it again.

Gammage contributed $55 million to the Tempe and Phoenix economies during the 2011-12 Broadway Across America series.

“We are absolutely committed to bringing the best of Broadway to the Valley, but we are also very happy to be such an economic driver to the community,” said Victor Hamburger, director of marketing and communications at Gammage.

This past season, 250,000 people visited Gammage for shows including “Wicked” and “West Side Story.” Patrons would then spend money at surrounding hotels and restaurants for a complete night on the town.

With shows drawing large crowds to Gammage, surrounding businesses ran specials.

Mark Walters, manager at Canteen Modern Tequila Bar on Mill Avenue, said there is always a spike in business when there is a show at the Gammage.

“‘Les Misérables’ was very popular and we would fill up about an hour before the show,” he said. “We work very closely with the Gammage and I memorize their schedule, so I know when to expect a crowd.”

Walters said he is disappointed that the next show isn’t until November.

“I really enjoyed having the people here for the show,” he said. “They are a good crowd.”

Hamburger said Broadway shows that come to Gammage help the economic stability of Tempe because the theater is a top tour site.

“When we go back at the end of the year, we know ‘War Horse’ will be a big player in revenue and attendees,” Hamburger said.


Nancy Roberts, senior economics lecturer in the W. P. Carey School of Business, said while Gammage has always been a popular attraction, there are other, larger events nearby.

“(The) report said 250,000 patrons visited Gammage for the Broadway season, generating $55 million; an average of $220 per patron,” she said. “That money could just as easily be spent on an afternoon at the Cardinals football game.”

Despite the numbers, entertainment remains much lower on the list of necessary expenditures to lift an economy out of a recession, Roberts said.

Both Hamburger and Roberts agree: Gammage’s job creation plays a positive role in recovery.

“All of the jobs that are created from these numbers, like ushers, parking attendants and technical workers, really shows the power Broadway has on our community and its recovery,” Hamburger said.


Contact the reporter at or via Twitter @mackenziemicro

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