L.A. area sporting events pumped more than $4 billion into the local economy last year, according to a study released Thursday.

The study from the Los Angeles Sport Council and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce found that about 18.5 million people attended sporting events in Los Angeles and Orange counties and the Inland Empire, helping to generate $4.1 billion in overall economic impact. Direct spending of $1.7 billion remained steady from the last study in 2009.

Overall attendance at local sporting events fell 11 percent from 20.8 million in 2009. Rising ticket prices and improved home viewing opportunities may have led to the attendance drop; those same rising ticket prices helped keep direct spending levels flat. The study noted that 82 percent of all available tickets to local spending events were sold, though not all buyers actually showed up at local stadiums and arenas.

The study also found the local sports industry employed 3,938 people last year, up 27 percent from the 2009 study and topping prerecession levels.

“This study validates a fact that we already know to be true: L.A. is a great sports town and will continue to be one, said Alan Rothenberg, chairman of both the sports council and the chamber.

The survey included professional franchises, sports venues, horse racing tracks, major colleges and universities as well as annual events such as the Los Angeles Marathon and the Rose Bowl Game.

The study did not reflect secondary spending by sports patrons at local restaurants or team merchandise shops. And it also did not include the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on renovations to Dodger Stadium, UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion and other sports venues.

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