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Is the Super Bowl Worth the Cost in Glendale?

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The Super Bowl XLIX logo is displayed on the University of Phoenix Stadium before the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The venue also hosted Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. Photo: AP PHOTO/CHARLIE RIEDEL

By Evan Weiner |

The Super Bowl is going back to Glendale, Arizona. Is it good for Glendale?

Four years ago, Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers said Glendale would lose money on the event. Weiers told an interviewer from ESPN The Magazine that “I totally believe we will lose money on this,” which was the 2015 Super Bowl in his city. Weiers claimed Glendale lost $1 million on the 2008 game although Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill claimed the city got $13 million in free advertising.

The problem with Bidwell’s claim is that no $13 million check ever goes back to the Super Bowl city. Glendale’s numbers backed up Weiers who was not the city’s mayor in 2008. Glendale spent a bit more than $3 million in city services on the game and got back just slightly more than a million dollars in taxes from spending at various places including hotels, motels, restaurants and car rental agencies. A study claimed the 2015 Super Bowl brought $285 million in direct spending into the Phoenix area and $719 million in overall impact. Studies usually find the results the NFL and city leaders want. Glendale did lose some money on the 2015 game.

Some Super Bowl goers do spend money at hotels and motels and car rental agencies but if those places are not locally owned, Super Bowl rate hikes at those places don’t stay in the host city rather the money goes back to a home office elsewhere. Same with restaurants. Sure, some people, taxi drivers, people who clean hotel/motel rooms, parking lot attendants, waiters and waitresses might get more tip money but a good deal of Super Bowl spending doesn’t go into non-hospitality businesses.

The NFL doesn’t care about what a host city spends on the Big Game as long as the NFL makes money which seemingly is always the case.

By Evan Weiner for the Politics of Sports Business 

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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