The Economic Impact of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon

A generic image of a pen on top of a stock chart.
Credit: Shutterstock photo

The Bank of America ( BAC ) Chicago Marathon is one of the largest running events in the world, drawing over 40,000 runners from across the world last year . Only the New York City Marathon draws more runners. Friends, family, and running enthusiasts come from all parts of the globe to watch the participants' 26.2 mile journey through 29 Chicago neighborhoods. The Chicago NBC affiliate places the number of spectators to an estimate of 1.7 million for the 2014 Chicago Marathon.

That number is more than likely to increase for the event on Sunday, October 11 th - maybe even reaching the 2 million spectator mark. Many of the participants and spectators are not from the city. According to data for the 2013 Chicago Marathon per a article , over 10,000 of the participants, or 23% of the field, were from outside the US, coming from 129 different countries. Mexico was the top country with 2,375 participants, and Canada was second with 1,761 participants.

Regarding participants from other US states, the previous article mentions that Indiana, Michigan, New York, and California were the top 4 states with the most participants outside of Illinois. Those numbers were 1,360, 1192, 1155, and 1,074 respectively.

The amount of out-of-state, both national and international, individuals involved with the Chicago Marathon generate serious tourism-related revenue figures. According to a study performed by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Regional Economics Applications Laboratory, the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon generated "$253.49 million in total business activity to the Chicago economy," which is an "equivalent of 1,742 full-time jobs and $85.94 million worth of wages and salary income." Furthermore, the economics lab reported the marathon itself "directly contributed to an estimated $101.8 million distributed among the main sectors of the tourism industry, in addition to another $151.7 million in indirect activity."

Whether this "equivalency" directly contributed to full-time jobs for workers after the marathon is rather debatable. However, local business owners, hotels, gratuity-reliant jobs, and the city of Chicago via sales tax revenues, did and will see more moneys pumped into the local economy - primarily in the downtown neighborhoods of The Loop, West Loop, and River North.

Local Charities

The Chicago Marathon each year does provide an increase of monies into the local economy from non-Chicago residents, and if that $250 million is reinvested into the community, it will promote more growth and opportunity for many individuals.

Another way the Chicago Marathon impacts the community is fundraising for charities . The marathon hosts thousands of runners who will run on behalf of a charity of their choosing. In 2014, there were over 10,000 charity runners whom participated in the marathon on behalf of over 190 charities - local, national, and global.

A close friend of mine is a charity runner for a local organization, PAWS Chicago , Chicago's largest no-kill animal shelter, so I am rather familiar of how the process works. When an individual runs for a charity, he or she gets a guaranteed spot in the marathon and do not have to enter the lottery.

To receive this guaranteed spot, the individual must collected a set number of funds for the charity. In the case of running for Team PAWS , pre-lottery members have to raise a minimum of $1,000 and post lottery members have to raise $1,500 in order to have their spot secured. Some charities will also reimburse the runner the marathon registration fee once their goals are met.

At a minimum, the 10,000 charity runners raising $1,000 each generates $10 million for local, national, and global charities. These millions of dollars are directly impacting many communities, especially Chicago ones. The funds generated from these charitable donations help improve the lives of loved ones, improve the local neighborhood, or even generate some jobs for these organizations.

The Sponsors

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a many official and affiliated sponsors . There are a few sponsors who should be seeming positive bumps in revenue from the spectacle that is the event. Nike ( NKE ) is an official sponsor for the marathon. They have a line of apparel specifically for this year's Chicago Marathon. It is safe to assume that the majority of runners and spectators will be purchasing a Nike "2015 Chicago Marathon" shirt to commemorate the event.

Gatorade Endurance, a Pepsico Inc. ( PEP ) brand, is the official drink of the Chicago Marathon. Along with another Pepsico product, Aquafina, being a supporting sponsor, it is safe to assume that tens-of-thousands of gallons of Gatorade and water will be consumed during the marathon. If Gatorade Endurance provides the needed nutrients that prevent runners from cramping and dehydration as it claims to do, then it will have lifelong customers who continue to use the product to train and exercise.

All the international and non-regional participants need transportation and a place to stay for the weekend. Hotel giant Hilton ( HLT ) is another official sponsor, and has multiple locations in the Loop and River North neighborhoods. Not only will the prices for the rooms be raised due to marathon, Hilton Hotels are probably at capacity, or very close to it. American Airlines ( AAL ) has international flights and a hub at O'Haire International Airport, so expect the company to have filled flights until a few days after the marathon.

Final Thoughts

In all, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is a life changing experience for the runners and a memorable trip for hundreds of thousands of individuals to one of the best cities in the United States. Even for a brief moment, local businesses can generate extra revenue to help massage the pain of slower business during the brutal winters. Millions of dollars will be raised for great causes, and the corporate sponsors will buy some good publicity supporting the event; maybe obtain some loyal customers in the process.

Yes, we locals do not enjoy the road closures, crowded L trains, and tourists walking around Michigan Avenue with a selfie stick, completely unaware of their surroundings. But in all, the Chicago Marathon is an exciting event for everyone involved.

(Sources for the photos are here and here )

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days . Click to get this free report >>

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report

NIKE INC-B (NKE): Free Stock Analysis Report

PEPSICO INC (PEP): Free Stock Analysis Report

BANK OF AMER CP (BAC): Free Stock Analysis Report

AMER AIRLINES (AAL): Free Stock Analysis Report

HILTON WW HLDG (HLT): Free Stock Analysis Report

To read this article on click here.

Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

In This Story


Other Topics


Latest Markets Videos


    Zacks is the leading investment research firm focusing on stock research, analysis and recommendations. In 1978, our founder discovered the power of earnings estimate revisions to enable profitable investment decisions. Today, that discovery is still the heart of the Zacks Rank. A wealth of resources for individual investors is available at

    Learn More