The London Summer Olympics have yet to start, but the windfall from the global economic sports behemoth has already been felt more than 5,000 miles away at La Pastaia restaurant in downtown San Jose, where tables filled up with hungry customers attending the recent U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Trials at the HP Pavilion.
At times during the recent four-day competition, business soared more than 50 percent, said La Pastaia manager Rashauna Vasquez. “We went from having a decent night to having a crazy night, which was great news,” she recalled of one evening when a crush of gymnastics-loving customers arrived after 8 p.m.
The Olympics, which begin July 27, now generates billions of dollars of business that touches virtually every corner of the world, from remote Chinese cities to San Jose. The London Games are creating a swirl of commercial activity — from a burst in buying of British products to NBC’s partnership with Facebook to promote Olympics content on the social network site — that could prove larger than any other previous sporting event.
“The reach of the Olympics is absolutely extraordinary,” said Robert Boland, a professor of sports business at New York University.
The event represents a global platform for marketing, merchandising and networking that is rivaled only by the World Cup, said Rob Prazmark, an Olympic marketing expert who helped the International Olympic Committee create its corporate sponsorship program in the1980s. The London Olympics is generating an estimated $7 billion in sponsorships, broadcast rights, ticket sales and other business, he said. That does not include the indirect economic value tied to the games — such as raising the international appeal of the city as a tourist destination — which are expected to be viewed by four billion people this summer.