Kentucky is famous for its horses and Keeneland is a major part of living in the Bluegrass. Thousands of people flock to Keeneland every year to bet on the horses and spend time with friends enjoying Keeneland’s festive atmosphere. But Keeneland isn’t just a unique entertainment venue–it’s also a significant part of our local economy.
The University of Kentucky’s Center for Business and Economic Research recently conducted a study to determine how Keeneland impacts Fayette County’s economy. Participants at the 2014 Fall Meet, September Yearling Sale, and November Breeding Sale were surveyed to determine direct spending at the events and the wider economic impact.
All together, these three events accrued $485.8 million in horse sales, $25 million in horse sale commissions, and $108.7 million in direct spending by all attendees. That’s a total of almost $620 million.
But what is the larger significance of this spending? How does that $108.7 million in direct spending affect Fayette County? What would be lost if Keeneland was not in Fayette County?
To really understand the economic impact of Keeneland on Fayette County’s economy, it’s necessary to only look at dollars spent as a result of Keeneland. The authors direct the economic impact study towards a specific subgroup of Keeneland attendees: those who were only visiting Fayette County because of Keeneland and would not otherwise be visiting or spending money in Fayette County. This consideration eliminates approximately 25% of Keeneland attendees from the economic impact analysis, but still leaves about 181 thousand participants.
The table below shows spending that occurred solely because of Keeneland and the total economic impact of that spending, using a multiplier that captures the concept that spending in one area causes additional spending elsewhere.
In total, the 2014 Fall Meet, September Sale, and November Sale generated $75.6 million in direct spending, $170 million in horse sales, $20.7 million in commissions, and almost $6.4 million in tax revenue that would not have come into Fayette County or Kentucky without Keeneland. And the total economic impact: $455 million.