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Is there a World Cup economic bounce?

By Kevin Voigt, CNN
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Japan's World Cup financial legacy
  • Japan's World Cup stadiums lose $2 million to $6 million a year
  • The 2006 World Cup in Germany saw $2.6 billion in related sales
  • French consumer outlook was improved by the 1998 World Cup
  • The 1994 World Cup helped raise football awareness in the U.S.

(CNN) -- Does hosting the World Cup lead to long-term economic gains? Depends on where you look.

The games in Japan -- which co-hosted with neighboring South Korea in 2002 -- continue to be an economic drag on the local communities. Why? Maintenance of the stadiums built for the games costs more than the revenues they bring in.

Eight of the 10 stadiums built or renovated in Japan for the 2002 World Cup lose between $2 million and $6 million a year, the balance of which is picked up by Japanese taxpayers.

"No strategy, no success," said Ichiro Hirose, a member of the 2002 World Cup Bidding Committee in Japan. "They did not have a strategy" for use of the stadiums after the games, he said.

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The 2006 World Cup in Germany saw an increase of $2.6 billion dollars in food, drink and sales of World Cup memorabilia, but when the games went away, so did the economic gains.

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"Germany has a large economy and such an event is a very little, tiny one. It was from the very beginning very unlikely that there would be a big impact on the economy," said Gert Wagner of the German Institute for Economic Research.

The 1998 games in France gave the nation a shot in the arm that helped lift the nation out of its economic doldrums at the time.

"What the World Cup did was increase maybe consumer confidence and gave that sort of wave of euphoria which lead to stronger consumer spending," said Alexander Law, chief economist at Xerfi, an economical analysis company. "But it was not the main factor behind the recovery of the French economy," Law said.

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The 1994 games in the U.S. generated a $60 million surplus from ticket sales, sponsorships and licensing agreements, said Alan Rothenberg, chairman and CEO of the 1994 World Cup.

Since the tournament used existing stadiums, there wasn't a significant infrastructure legacy from it, said Robert Boland, a professor of sports business at New York University.

But Rothenberg said the larger goal of the games was to help grow the world's most popular sport in the world's largest economy.

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"The motivation was not to make money. The motivation was to develop the sport and to create, basically to host the world's greatest sports spectacle," Rothenberg said.

The 2010 World Cup in South Africa is expected to have a gross economic impact of $12 billion to the country's economy, according to an April report by Grant Thornton South Africa.

The number of visitors is expected to be 373,000 -- down from original estimates of nearly half a million -- but those that do come are estimated to stay longer and spend more, the report said. Each visitor is expected to spend about $3,900 during their stay.

The cost of the games, however, has ballooned from $2.2 billion to $3.9 billion, and cities and provinces hosting games have had to kick in an additional $1.1 billion more than expected, the report said.

CNN's Richard Ross, Diana Magnay, Jim Bitterman and Kyung Lah contributed to this report

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