TAMPA, Florida - The City of Tampa may have a highlight reel to show off its successful 2017 College Football Playoff championship, but Hillsborough County doesn't seem to have the tax receipts to prove the event was an economic success for the region.
Initial data, just released from the Florida Department of Revenue, show no spike in taxes collected in Hillsborough County from sales in January 2017, when it hosted the national championship and a number of large events surrounding the game. The data will be reviewed and adjusted by the state next month.
While many factors play into a county's tax collections on any given month, Hillsborough saw just a 6% gain in tax receipts from the same month in 2016, on-par with the state's 6% growth from the same time period. Hillsborough's gain was also consistent with previous year's reports, where the county posted 4-6% gains most months compared to the same periods in 2015.
Pinellas and Pasco counties also posted similar tax numbers in January 2017 compared to their 2016 trends, each up 4% from 2016's reports. Polk County saw the bay area's best January 2017, reporting 12% better sales than from the previous January.
When Tampa landed playoff championship week more than three years ago, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan claimed the event would bring somewhere between 1,700 and 1,800 full-time jobs, as well as $250 million to $350 million in economic impact.
However, that kind of revenue would have generated an extra $17.5 million to $24.5 million in sales taxes, which there seems to be little evidence to support.
While it is difficult to determine all of the factors for taxable sales countywide, supporters of the national championship game point to large crowds gathering at Tampa-area hotels and establishments the week leading up to the game as proof the event is good for the economy. But economists are quick to point to tax data, which often refutes the robust claims of major events.
Rob Higgins, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission, told 10News the numbers from local hotels and Tampa International Airport were extraordinary. But overall, Hillsborough collected $127 million in taxes from January 2017 sales, compared to $120 million in January 2016.