Study: TomorrowWorld had $85m impact

Last fall, when marquee electronic dance music acts commandeered Bouckaert Farm in south Fulton County for a three-day weekend festival, no one really knew what to expect.

Seven months after TomorrowWorld brought pounding beats, 300 DJs, massive stages and enough confetti to cover the 500 acres of farmland, the financial results are in. TomorrowWorld’s economic impact was calculated at $85.1 million, with $70 million of it in Atlanta and neighboring areas, according to a study paid for by the event’s producers.

That dollar figure is the same amount the NCAA Final Four Championship games brought to the city in 2013.

The economic impact study was conducted by Beacon Economics, an independent research and consulting firm based in Los Angeles.

Atlanta is becoming a major destination for music festivals and the crowds and money they generate. The Counterpoint fest returns the weekend of April 25 with a new location, Kingston Downs near Cartersville, and Atlanta rap legends Outkast playing their first area show in years. May brings the Shaky Knees music festival, which expands its indie rock appeal to a larger area at Atlantic Station. Music Midtown has made a triumphant return its past two years at Piedmont Park, where it is expected to take place again this fall.

TomorrowWorld, an offshoot of the decade-old TomorrowLand festival in Belgium, made its U.S. debut last year in south Fulton County. According to the economic impact study, about 12 percent of attendees came from outside the U.S. (75 countries were represented). Every U.S. state was represented in the crowd, with Georgia and Florida leading, followed by New York and Texas.

“One of the big parts of TomorrowWorld coming here is putting Atlanta on the map as an event site,” said Justin Epstein, CEO of Premier Agency, which handles PR for TomorrowWorld.

The festival’s project director, Shawn Kent, said he was surprised – happily so – at the study results.

“It’s kind of overwhelming that we can create such an impact in a community,” he said. “It’s kind of humbling in a way that, wow, we’re an economic impact, and you really see it now.”

TomorrowWorld is contracted for 10 years at the farm in Chattahoochee Hills and has booked its sophomore production Sept. 26-28. Tickets are on sale now.

Kent said the theme of this year’s event – an all-important element for fans – will be announced at the end of summer. “The Key to Happiness” is the theme to this year’s TomorrowLand in Belgium, which takes place in July).

Some findings from the U.S. economic impact study:

  • 120,000 people attended over three days (a little short of projections of 50,000 per day, or 150,000 for the event). An additional 20,000 fans who arrived the Thursday before the official Friday kickoff to get situated on the camp site at the farm were also tallied.
  • TomorrowWorld employed the equivalent of 749 annual full time jobs.
  • An estimated $4.3 million in tax revenue went to the state and local governments as a result of event-related spending.
  • About 22.5 percent of TomorrowWorld attendees spent several additional days in the Atlanta area. Their spending added $28.7 million into the local economy across areas such as lodging, restaurants and sightseeing.
  • TomorrowWorld surveyed 1,829 attendees two weeks after the festival and received a score of 9.2 out of 10 for overall enjoyment.