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Theater's impact for good: Gammage brings economic growth to the Valley

The last Broadway season for ASU Gammage broke records and delivered $100 million to Valley community

People walk into ASU Gammage in Tempe, Arizona in 2015. 

People walk into ASU Gammage in Tempe, Arizona in 2015. 

The 2016-2017 Broadway season at ASU Gammage is underway, and the theater is anticipating a large number of musical-loving patrons to be piling in. With more seats being filled, Gammage is expecting to make more money than ever, which impacts the community positively.

Not only is Gammage a staple in the Tempe arts community, it is a major resource for Valley businesses, restaurants and organizations when it comes to money. Last year, the theater brought $100 million to the greater Tempe area, which boosted the surrounding businesses.

ASU Gammage's Senior Marketing Director, Victor Hamburger, said that it wasn't until the end of 2006 that the theater started boosting the community towards more economic growth.

"Every year that number seems to grow in terms of economic impact," Hamburger said. "Since 2006, we made more than 550 million dollars of economic impact, and we have 15,000 more subscribers and that really helps fuel the growth of what we're able to do from an economic impact standpoint."

Making over a half a billion dollars within 10 years is a result of what Hamburger describes as a "full cycle approach."

When a show occurs at Gammage, businesses benefit. Going to local restaurants, Ubering to a show or even buying a new outfit from a local store are all results of the economic impact of the theater.  

The theater doesn't want to stop at the $100 million mark. Hamburger said that future seasons would top that economic-impact number easily.

"Sales are extremely strong for the season," Hamburger said. "We definitely expect to break the economic impact record the following year when we have a very huge season coming up."

Gammage is located right on the outskirts of ASU's Tempe campus and right out the window for some students. The new season of critically acclaimed shows have been posted everywhere to encourage students to go to a night at the theater.

Over the years, Gammage has made a name for itself as a nationally known theater. Thanks to the economic impact that the theater has delivered, Gammage has attracted the eyes of some of the most popular shows on Broadway.

Shows in past years have been season regulars like "Annie" and "Wicked." However, with last season's $100 million economic impact boost for community, theater companies are seeing that Tempe and Gammage are a hotspot for their other popular traveling Broadway shows to set up shop for multiple weeks.

Bringing shows like "An American in Paris" and "Beautiful" creates a pro-and-con list for students. To some, it's thrilling to catch the hottest show in New York right outside their dorm.

Communications sophomore Sophie Pieri said that having more popular Broadway shows come to Tempe is something that makes Gammage unique. 

"I'm stoked about the bigger shows," Pieri said. "They're some of my favorites, and you will definitely see me in the audience."

Though the shows are popular with audiences and critics, the ticket price isn't as popular with some students.

Microbiology senior Sarah Haller is an avid theater goer, and said that buzz-worthy shows like "Matilda" and "Finding Neverland" are great for lovers of Broadway, but not so great when it comes to purchasing a ticket.

"Bigger shows mean there will be more interest," Haller said. "They may sell out a lot more often and quickly and making it more difficult for people, and particularly students relying on student rush tickets, to get seats."

Nevertheless, the shows has created a buzz throughout the Valley, and with a crowd of excited theater patrons heading down to Gammage, it will benefit not only the theater, but also the community as a whole.

"Gammage and ASU care about the community they are in," Haller said. "It shows that the arts are beautiful, and that they can benefit the community."

While the season has already started, it's not too late to catch "The Sound of Music," opening Oct. 18, and other great shows coming soon. 

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