The impact of a Super Bowl doesn’t stop at the thud of a player tackling a player; the host city will also feel the impact. And Arizona is no stranger to the financial perks of hosting a Super Bowl. Feb. 12 marks the state’s fourth time hosting the Big Game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale. Arizona sports betting apps will be the first to experience a Super Bowl in their state.
David Rousseau, the chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, said:
“The exposure and economic impact it brings to our region is unmatched.”
Enthusiasm aside, estimates vary considerably on how much hosting the Super Bowl can actually profit a city. In 2021, the NFL put that figure at $300 million to $500 million, and others have it as high as $800 million. Experts at Visit Phoenix expect the upcoming Big Game to bring in about $600 million, according to Fox 10 Phoenix.
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Does an Arizona Super Bowl help Arizona?
However, Victor Matheson, the College of the Holy Cross economics professor specializing in the economic impacts of mega-sports, painted a more muted picture in a talk with PlayAZ. Looking back at previous host cities’ experiences, he puts the actual economic impact of Super Bowl hosting at $30 million to $130 million, most commonly around $100 million.
According to Matheson, some of the factors feeding into those lower figures include:
The crowding-out effect
Hotel guests who come to town for the Big Game displace guests who might otherwise check in rather than adding to the number of guests overall.
Super Bowle money doesn’t stay in the host city
For starters, the money goes to different NFL teams. A lot of labor gets imported to handle the influx of Big Game business.
For example, Matheson said that a San Antonio, Texas, Uber driver might temporarily work in the Phoenix area for Super Bowl weekend. Still, they then spend the money back in San Antonio. Also, staff such as rental car and hotel employees might get a little overtime, but they don’t benefit from significantly upgraded fees for the big weekend. The profits go back to corporate.
If a family of four spends $10,000 on a Super Bowl vacation, very little of that money will stay in Arizona. Matheson added that Phoenix is usually pretty busy this time of year, anyway, Big Game or no Big Game.
Host cities have added expenses, of course, including substantially increased public transportation and police overtime costs that can greatly detract from revenues.
Economic impact of previous AZ Super Bowls
Arizona has hosted the Super Bowl three previous times: 1996, 2008 and 2015. (In 1990, the state lost its already scheduled 1993 slot because then-Gov. Evan Meacham insupportably canceled Martin Luther King Day.)
According to Eric Kerr, Visit Phoenix’s vice president of insights and development, Arizona saw $720 million in economic impact when it hosted in 2015. Some of that went to city, state and county revenues through taxes.
His figure agrees with the results of an economic impact study by the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Kerr reported these benefits to Fox 10 Phoenix:
- Rental car centers tripled the usual business.
- 95% hotel occupancy, the seventh highest on record.
Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport’s busiest day ever on post-game Monday, with 180,000 passengers passing through
Matheson addressed the 2015 figures.
“There’s no doubt that the Super Bowl’s a big tourism event.”
He pointed out that even while some of the money stays in Arizona due to taxes, most of it goes to the corporate owners of hotels, airlines, rental car services, etc. A small percentage of the money paid for Big Game tickets remains in Phoenix.
At any rate, economic history may not repeat itself.
The 2015 Pro Bowl also happened in Glendale on the Sunday before that year’s Super Bowl here, but this year’s Pro Bowl will be played in Las Vegas. Thus, Super Bowl 57’s overall economic impact on the Phoenix area may be minimal.
Ultimately, Super Bowl 42, played in Glendale in 2008, may serve as a cautionary note: The city’s then-mayor told ESPN that the city had lost $1 million during the hosting process.
So the real benefit, Matheson told Business Insider, could be the temporary boost in local happiness that accompanies hosting.
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Super Bowl philanthropy has greatest impact
Ray Artigue of the strategic planning and marketing firm Artigue Advisors pointed out that, like area businesses, local charities may benefit from Super Bowl revenue. The NFL may build playgrounds or homes through Habitat for Humanity.
And the “tremendous impact” of hosting the Super Bowl here won’t end when the game clock runs out, according to Rousseau. In keeping with that, the Host Committee has partnered with the NFL Foundation for the Super Bowl Legacy Grant program. It will award grants to nonprofits that help underserved communities with these objectives:
- Improving access to quality education for youth
- Driving positive action for equality and accessibility
- Implementing food recovery and recycling initiatives
- Improving the overall well-being of residents, with a focus on youth
Alexia Gallagher, the executive director of the NFL Foundation and NFL vice president of philanthropy, said:
“The NFL prioritizes leaving a lasting legacy in each of its host cities that positively impacts the local community, starting long before the Super Bowl kicks off and for years after the game has concluded.”