Tampa, Florida -- Leaders take it for granted that a Super Bowl will bring a wave of money into its host city, with spending in the hundreds of millions. A USF professor says that's nonsense.
For a long weekend, people will pack hotels, restaurants will stay slammed, and America will hear over and over about Tampa Bay's beautiful beaches and beautiful "adult entertainers".
Host Committee Director Reid Sigmon says altogether, the spending on Super Bowl XLIII is worth $300 million to our local economy.
"We're gonna have 100,00 visitors. We're gonna have full hotels. We're gonna have bars and restaurants full. We have emerging businesses that have gotten contracts that are only because of Super Bowl," Sigmon said.
Far from "super"
But University of South Florida Professor Philip Porter pulls up evidence from Tampa's past Super Bowls and says it proves the economic impact is far from "super" -- if it exists at all.
He points to sales tax revenue from Hillsborough County and says it shows barely any difference between years when we had a Super Bowl Sunday and years that just had Sundays. For example:
January 1990 - $727 million
January 1991 - $720 million (Super Bowl month)
January 1992 - $742 million
January 2000 - $1,397 million
January 2001 - $1,440 million (Super Bowl month)
January 2002 - $1,388 million
"It would be awfully difficult for a politician to say, 'We're gonna have a Super Bowl, because we're gonna throw a big party, and it's the best party out there.' They've got to tell you that they're doing it for you," Porter said.
"So these economic impact studies that say -- $400 million of economic impact? That sounds like a pretty darn good investment."
Numbers on both sides
Sigmon, the Host Committee chief, also backs up his case with numbers.
Take the 73,000 extra people he says came and went through Tampa International Airport during the Super Bowl month of January 2001.
"We had the highest tourist development tax collection month in history [in] January 2001. It's since been passed, but at that point it was the highest tax collection month," Sigmon said. "So, in terms of those kind of numbers, there's definitely impact in our community."
Professor Porter says our local hotels are already around 85 percent full during Winter, and the Super Bowl doesn't improve that much. And he argues that when they raise rates, hotels send most of the profits to out-of-town owners and chase away families that would normally visit and buy local services.
Trying to count the "intangibles"
Sigmon says it's critical to factor in the benefits that are tougher to see and measure, like nationwide exposure -- all the way from blimp shots down to webcams.
Porter answers by citing other studies from other cities that he says show no positive job creation or population growth in the years following big sporting events.
"There's probably been 40 or 50 published articles on the economic impact of sporting events," Porter said. "And they uniformly come to the conclusion that there's no noticeable footprint. Nothing statistically significant comes out of that."
Both sides agree that the world's economic situation presents a uniquely difficult challenge for anyone trying to measure the impact of this year's Tampa Bay Super Bowl.
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Grayson Kamm, 10 Connects