Sports By The Numbers Is Big Business In Florida

Greyhound Racing at Mardi Gras

Sports is big business in Florida, bringing in over $2 billion in revenue each year, a percentage of which goes into the state coffers.  Not surprisingly, our professional sports teams generate the most revenue in sports each year because they benefit not just from ticket sales, but revenue sharing from television.

According to National Football League statistics, the Miami Dolphins generated $322 million in revenue in 2015-16.  The Jacksonville Jaguars weren’t far behind with $315 million in revenue, followed by the Tampa Bay Bucs with $313 million.

Florida’s professional basketball teams also generate significant revenue, with the Miami Heat bringing in $210 million in 2015-16 followed by the Orlando Magic with $166 million.

According to Major League Baseball the Miami Marlins brought in $199 million in revenue in 2015-16 and the Tampa Bay Rays had $193 million in revenue for the same year.

College football is also considered big business in Florida.  The U.S. Department of Education reports that the University of Florida football program has the top revenue in the state at around $73 million a year followed by Florida State University with $36 million and the University of Miami with around $26 million in football revenue.  The top six college football programs in Florida generate around $170 million in revenue a year.

There is another sport that generates significant revenue in Florida that has been all but forgotten—greyhound racing.  The amount bet at Florida’s greyhound race tracks–just on races in 2015-16–was $240 million.  That doesn’t include bets made at race track cardrooms which topped $4 billion in the same year, nor does it include the money brought in by slot machines at tracks in South Florida.

According to Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering over $1.26 billion has been bet at Florida’s tracks just on greyhound racing in the last five years. If you include revenue from card rooms, slot machines and advanced deposit wagering (which isn’t even legal) the revenue generated by Florida’s greyhound race tracks in the last five year easily exceeds $2 billion.

While it is true that bets on live greyhound races have declined—bets placed just on live races at Florida’s race tracks still totaled $88 million in 2015-16—which is more revenue than any college football program in Florida generated in the same year.  When you include all revenue from bets made on greyhound racing the tracks are bringing in more money each year than any of Florida’s professional baseball, hockey, or basketball teams. Only NFL football teams bring in more.

Too be sure—greyhound racing in Florida is still big business.  Not only does live racing generate significant revenue—the greyhound racing industry also provides more than 3,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs in Florida.  Greyhound racing continues to be a popular form of entertainment (as an example Trip Advisor ranks the Daytona Beach track as #3 of 122 things to do in Daytona).

In recent years there have been calls to end live greyhound racing in Florida.  Some have even called it a “dying industry”.  However, when you look at the revenue generated by the sport each year it is clear that greyhound racing continues to be a significant industry in Florida.

Professional Sports Revenue in Florida 2015-16 (as reported by NFL, MLF, NBA and NHL)

  1. Miami Dolphins $ 322 million
  2. Jacksonville Jaguars   $ 315 million
  3. Tampa Bay Bucs $ 313 million
  4. Miami Heat $ 210 million
  5. Miami Marlins $ 199 million
  6. Tampa Bay Rays $ 193 million
  7. Orlando Magic       $ 166 million
  8. Tampa Bay Lightning $ 127 million
  9. Florida Panthers $ 100 million

College Football Revenue in Florida (as reported by U.S. Dept.of Education)

  1. University of Florida $ 73 million
  2. Florida State University $ 36 million
  3. University of Miami $ 26 million
  4. University of South Fla. $ 17 million
  5. University of Central Fla. $ 13 million
  6. Florida Atlantic University $  7 million