Money talks: Final Four no Super Bowl

The digital transaction company Square, maker of the plug-in credit card reader for smartphones and tablets, reinforced something most of us already know. The NFL is king in this country.

After tracking sales volume among about 50,000 Square-equipped vendors in Atlanta this past weekend, the company determined that the Final Four did draw money to the local economy. But the boost wasn’t nearly as big as the Super Bowl gave New Orleans.

Square measured Square-related commerce on Super Bowl weekend and the prior weekend in New Orleans and found that business increased 60 percent on Super Bowl weekend. Following the same procedure for Final Four weekend in Atlanta, which included Monday, Square-equipped individuals and businesses there saw more than an 11 percent increase in business compared to the weekend before.

From Mar. 30 to Apr. 1, Atlanta individuals and businesses used Square to process around $1.6 million. During Final Four weekend, that number increased to just $1.8 million.

It doesn’t seem like much difference, but a closer look does show a few interesting things.

“Looking at the heat maps and the data, it appears that commerce shifted slightly towards downtown, just east of the Georgia Dome,” says Square spokesperson Faryl Ury. “This is unlike Super Bowl weekend, where commerce shifted more strongly towards the Superdome."

And restaurateurs and taxi and limo drivers certainly got a big boost from the Final Four. Food-related businesses had the most number of transactions processed via Square, while taxi and limo drivers saw their business more than double.

Square isn’t taking a stance on what these numbers mean, but it intends to continue to collect sales data around big-time sporting events. The more data it collects, the more likely civic leaders will draw conclusions. For now, those conclusions are TBD.