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How about that Super Bowl game, huh? And today, I’ve got the final score for you: The Pats 28, Seahawks 24… and Glendale minus 2,000,000.
Two million dollars that is – the amount that Mayor Jerry Weiers estimates that Glendale, Arizona, lost by having the “honor” of hosting Super Bowl XLIX. Lost? Isn’t this sports spectacular a magic money machine? That’s what the NFL’s super slick billionaire owners say as they hustle their Big Game from city to city, claiming that the lucky host will gain $500 million in added hotel rentals, sales taxes, etc.
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Independent analysts, however, show that additional spending in a host city actually is far-less-than-super, ranging from about $200 million to as low as $30 million. Moreover, much of that just replaces revenue from regular tourists – and, in Glendale’s case, hordes of fans coming to the game chose to stay, eat, and party in Phoenix, so the money went there. And don’t forget to subtract a city’s added costs, such as thousands of police overtime hours, security for VIPs, street closings, and extra cleanup crews.
And while Glendale did have its moment in the global TV spotlight, Mayor Weier is not exactly bullish on any real benefit coming from that. “In the long run,” he says, “down the road, certainly we might break even on this.” Meanwhile, the people of Glendale are still paying a heavy price for earlier failed gambles on big time sports. To stave off bankruptcy, 25 percent of city workers were terminated, street maintenance was cut, libraries and swimming pools reduced their hours, and taxes were raised.
So, look out San Francisco, Houston, Minneapolis, and other cities next in line to host Super Bowls. One clue into who really wins in these hyped-up deals is that the NFL didn’t even offer a ticket to Mayor Weiers – he had to watch the game at home.
“Glendale mayor, experts say NFL oversells economic benefits of Super Bowl,” www.america.aljazeera.com, January 31, 2015.
“Salaries, Ads & Security: What’s The Real Cost Of Super Bowl XLIX?” www.forbes.com, February 1, 2015.
“Super Bowl host city will lose ‘couple million dollars’ hosting the event,” www.mashable.com, January 29, 2015.