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Bobcat FCS playoff games bring in millions for Bozeman and Montana's economy

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Posted at 11:41 AM, Nov 30, 2023

After thousands of Montana State fans fill Bobcat Stadium for the Cats' FCS playoff game against North Dakota State this weekend, millions of dollars will then be poured back into the local economy.

Megan Ward and her staff at Barefoot in downtown Bozeman are getting ready for the Montana State football playoffs.

“You can't discredit the playoff season or the regular season for a lack of sales. We definitely get a good amount of sales,” says Ward. “This year we have a lot more product than we did last year, so Montana State stuff has taken up nearly 10% more of our sales compared to last year.”

Bozeman Chamber of Commerce CEO Daryl Schliem says just one Bobcat playoff game can bring in millions.

“Probably a three-and-a-half to four million-dollar day,” says Schliem.

Schliem says people spend about 25-30% of their money on food and drinks, about 20% on hotels and gas, and retail rounds out the rest. And that’s just one playoff game.

“The past few years have done $25 million for total community investment,” says Schliem.

Schliem says that money isn’t just staying here locally with Bozeman’s $2 per night tax on hotels. In 2022, the local hotels added $5.3 million to the state's economy.

“We get back about $600,000 a year of that $5.3 million,” says Schliem.

Beyond Bobcat football, Schliem says more than one-third of the Treasure State’s tax revenue is generated from Gallatin County and the surrounding Yellowstone region.

“We produce almost 38% of all the state tax revenue that goes to Helena. And then if you look at personal income tax, it's probably somewhere in the 40, 41%,” says Schliem.

It's not just Bozeman benefiting from the playoffs. Three Forks, Livingston, and even as far as Butte feel the effects of a home game.

“Because a spillover effect does happen when our rooms fill up,” says Schliem.

Back at Barefoot, they are also gearing up for the Christmas Stroll right after the game.

“I plan to schedule pretty heavily for weekends,” says Ward.