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What Does Shared Value Look Like For Sports Franchises?

Written by Brian Hull

It has been twelve years since ICIC developed the anchor institution strategic framework with Dr. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School as a way to think about how large anchor institutions can create beneficial impact in their host communities. Since the publication of Leveraging Colleges and Universities for Urban Economic Revitalization in 2002, ICIC has been at the forefront of developing the theoretical underpinning of a shared value framework that explores the mutually beneficial roles anchor institutions can play in their communities to expand
economic opportunities while also delivering value to the institution.
There have been numerous studies and reports over the past decade providing anecdotal evidence of institutions’ beneficial impact in their host communities. Much of what has been measured, however, is focused on community benefits. But how do we know if anchors are creating mutually beneficial outcomes? An important contribution to anchor strategies is this concept of shared value – the positive impact in the community plus the positive returns to the organization.
In order to promote shared value, and to encourage additional organizations to act as intentional drivers of social and economic growth in their communities, both sides of the community engagement equation should be considered and measured.
ICIC will be exploring this topic in a webinar on June 5th
While many now understand the potential role universities and hospitals can and often do play as anchor institutions in their community, other organizations such as corporations, community foundations and sports franchises are typically not included in anchor discussions. The relevant question is in what ways can these other types of organizations create shared value in their communities?
In the case of sport franchises, making a meaningful impact to the local community is particularly important because of the public resources that are typically brought to subsidize the construction of a new stadium or arena. These subsidies may foment community opposition because of the perceived lack of community benefit to justify the enormous public support. But sports franchises can deliver value in important ways to their communities.
There are three broad roles that sports franchises can engage in for shared value: purchasers, employers, and real estate developers. Two sports franchises seem to be leading the field.
The Atlanta Falcons are being very intentional with the construction of their $1.2 billion new stadium, which broke ground in April 2014 and is scheduled to be completed in 2017. The team’s owner and Chairman of the Arthur M. Blank Family
Foundation, Arthur M. Blank, expressed a commitment to the community that construction of the stadium will benefit the local residents and business ecosystem in Atlanta. Part of this commitment is the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, a $15 million fund used to make strategic, philanthropic investments in Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill and other contiguous neighborhoods. The Equal Business Opportunity Plan announced in May 2013 highlights the commitment to the community during the design and construction phase of the stadium. The plan detail policies and procedures to achieve a minimum goal of 31% participation by minority and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) including efforts to work with business support organizations to identify MWBEs and reduce barriers for them to secure contracts.
Shared value stems from the revitalization of the neighborhoods west of downtown Atlanta where the stadium will be located, linking construction jobs to local residents, and making the neighborhoods safer and more attractive through strategic investments to increase the appeal of attending games in the new stadium.
The Seattle Mariners articulate a shared value vision when discussing their local sourcing preferences for the operation of their ballpark. Not only do the Mariners feel a responsibility to the community given that the fans make the Mariners who they are, but they also have a desire to support smaller local businesses in Seattle. Local vendors currently provide office supplies, recycling service, and local food options during games. Regarding the recycling program, the Seattle Mariners are leaders, recycling or composting almost 91% of all the waste generated at Safeco Field, up from 12% in 2005. Their local vendor is Seadrunar Recycling, a business created in 1979 to help fund the Seattle Drug and Narcotic Center, Inc. and employ recovering addicts to enable them to become productive community members.
Further, the Mariners deliver value to stadium patrons through the many local food options in their ballpark that provide compelling offerings and different high-quality products that are locally produced by small, minority and women-owned
What these examples highlight are the valuable contributions that sports franchises can make in their communities while also improving the reputation of the team, generating more awareness and affinity with the brand, and enhancing the experience fans have during games.
Join ICIC on June 5th for a What Works Webinar to discuss best practice approaches for measuring the impact of anchor institutions. Gain actionable insights that will include:
• How a community and an anchor institution can benefit from shared value strategies
• How shared value anchor strategies differ from corporate social
• Useful metrics for measuring community impact
• Metrics for analyzing the return to anchors
• The benefits and challenges associated with collecting and publicizing impact data


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