Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model (STEAM)

As part of the preparation of hosting an event, it is often desirable to conduct an economic impact assessment in order to estimate the level of economic activity that could potentially be supported by the event.

There are two main challenges associated with performing an impact analysis. First, depending on the assumptions made during the preparation of these studies, the estimated impact can vary widely. Second, the costs associated with conducting an impact review can be prohibitive for small to medium sized hosting organizations.

The Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance has recognized the challenges associated with generating credible and cost-effective economic impact studies. Therefore, in 2002, and in association with Sport Canada, the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI), and the Canadian Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaux, the CSTA has developed the Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model (STEAM).

The objective of developing this tool was to create a model that is both easy to use and easy to access. STEAM meets the first criteria, ease of use, as the only information needed to generate results from the model are a basic knowledge of participant and spectator demographics, augmented with information contained in the event’s business plan. The second criterion, ease of access, has been met through the hosting of the model on the internet. STEAM is the world’s first web-based economic impact model specifically designed for sport events.

There are two key components of the model that act to standardize the results, thereby allowing for comparability of the economic impacts of different events in different locations across Canada. The first is the use of standardized visitor expenditure profiles that have been developed with primary data collected by the CSTA, which is then supplemented with data from Statistics Canada. The second is the use of a modified version of CTRI’s TEAM model, which creates the economic impact estimates from the expenditure inputs.

As noted, the average daily expenditures of visitors at sporting events have been prepared using the results of on-site economic impact assessments conducted by the CSTA. On-site surveys have been conducted at more than 50 sports events across Canada including summer and winter sports as well as spectator and participant based events. This extensive data set has allowed for the development of key indicators to differentiate the spending of visitors, including the person’s role at an event (i.e. spectator, participant, and media), the distance they travelled, their age, and their length of stay. Accordingly, the model makes adjustments to the expenditure profile used in the preparation of the impact assessment based on these demographic characteristics, as well as the location of the event. This spending estimate is then combined with capital and operations expenditures contained in an event’s business plan to produce an overall estimate of the expenditures associated with the event under consideration, which is then entered into the economic impact assessment component of the model.

The multipliers used within the STEAM model have been developed by CTRI and are based on their TEAM model, the pre-eminent economic impact assessment model in Canada. STEAM (and TEAM) is based on Statistics Canada’s provincial input / output tables, which are then combined with other data to incorporate the local and provincial employment and tax structures of the host community. Moreover, the results produced by STEAM are fully consistent with the STEAM PRO model for those events in which users wish to conduct a pre-event projection as well as a post-event analysis.

Both the expenditure profiles and the multipliers are updated frequently as more survey results become available or due to major changes in tax structures (i.e. introduction of HST).

Access to STEAM is free to all members of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance; however it is restricted to members of the CSTA who have participated in a STEAM training session, offered at our annual congress or periodically throughout the year via webcast. For a fee, the CSTA is able to conduct either a STEAM projection or on-site STEAM PRO analysis; for more information, please see our rate card.

For more information about STEAM, please don’t hesitate to contact the CSTA via email at

Access to STEAM is restricted to members of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance who have attended a training workshop, offered regionally across Canada throughout the year.