Louisville, Arizona two of the top valued college basketball programs

Charleston Southern’s Sheldon Strickland shoots a free throw against Arizona on Nov. 11, 2012 at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz. The No. 12 Wildcats beat the Buccaneers 82-73 in the UA’s season opener as Strickland finished with one point in 10 minutes of play. Photo courtesy of Tyler Besh.First things first, let’s get this out of the way — college athletics is big business.

Sure, the phrase “student athlete” sounds great, but for college basketball, and especially college football, the bottom line is as big of a factor as anything happening on the hardwood.

During the 2013 March Madness tournament – where Louisville managed its way through the field to beat Michigan in a memorable championship game – advertisers spent more than $1.0 billion on advertising, according to Kantar Media. That total topped even the super bowl, which logged-in at a mere $976.3 million.

This exchange of cash is why CBS and Turner Broadcasting shelled out more than $740 million for rights to cover the games; it’s why ESPN invested $5.64 billion over 12 years to broadcast the coming college football playoffs; and it’s why the Pac-12 Network came to a $3.0 billion deal with Fox and ESPN in 2012.

The money is there in college athletics. And, it’s why every year Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, comes out with a list every basketball and football season ranking the value of big time programs if they were bought and sold like professional franchises.

“If you want to do good, solid decision-making, thinking about a university like a business is the [right] idea,” Brewer said.

While not every basketball program is profitable, and in those cases a business decision must be made to see if it’s worth spending money there versus academics, Brewer said that schools that spend around $70 or $80 million typically hit a “magic spot” and brings in a positive cash flow.

So for universities like Louisville or Arizona, it’s not a worry about losing money. It’s about how much can they make.

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Mexican tourism dwindling in Pima County, Arizona

A traveler enters the Nogales Shuttle Service to go from South Tucson to Phoenix on March, 8, 2013. South Tucson features several different shuttle services that take riders to several cities in Arizona (Photo by Kyle Johnson).Mexico. A country rich in history, culture — and tourism dollars.

While Arizona’s neighbors from the South aren’t typically viewed as an economic stimulator, Mexican tourists generated an estimated $975.4 million in Pima County alone in 2008, according to a study by the University of Arizona.

“They come to our malls, to every store you can imagine, and can afford to leave money at restaurants, hotels,” said Felipe Garcia, Executive Vice President of Visit Tucson and the company’s resident expert on Mexico. “It has a great impact here in Southern Arizona and all the state of Arizona because they’re paying sales tax. Every municipality in our state has a benefit from those dollars— or their pesos— when they’re down there, their dollars crossing the border.”

Garcia said images of undocumented border-crossers, drug trafficking and violence first pop into the head of U.S. citizens. People see Mexico as a threat, rarely as an economic opportunity and trade partner.

Unfortunately several factors, such as border violence and S.B. 1070, have reduced the number of Mexican tourists to the United States since 2008.

“(SB1070) really gave us a black eye with the Mexican visitors and the Mexican consumers,” Douglas, Ariz., Mayor Danny Ortega Jr. said.

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Tucson soccer enticing sports tourism

[caption id="attachment_287" align="alignright" width="1000"]Canadian defender Doneil Henry prepares to throw the ball in play at Kino Sports Complex on Jan. 26, 2013, in Tucson, Ariz. The matchup between Canada and Denmark was the first international friendly held in the city. (Photo by Kyle Johnson)[/caption]February has long been the month for the snowbirds up North to migrate to the 70-degree, sunny, desert oasis that is Tucson, Ariz.

But, now a new reason to travel to the Old Pueblo is emerging, and it’s proving to be a boon for the local economy — soccer.

The world’s most popular sport isn’t new to the Old Pueblo, but with the recent departure of Spring Training baseball, a vacuum of sports tourism was left. Tucson Councilman Paul Cunningham and several budding entrepreneurs are looking to fill the void with one of the United States fastest growing sports.

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