Is The Super Bowl Really An Economic Boon For Its Host City?

One football player tackling another.

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The Super Bowl is the biggest event of the year in American sports, and conventional wisdom would hold that the game leads to an economic windfall for its host city every year. Some skeptics are fighting back against that notion, however. According to The New York Times, the benefits of investing in a big stadium and hosting the big game aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

The Times noted that seven cities have built new NFL stadiums within the last 12 years, and all of them will have hosted the Super Bowl by 2020. Los Angeles and Las Vegas are the next two cities expected to construct new venues and host future Super Bowls. These building projects are controversial because they often require a hefty amount of public funding. Minneapolis, which is hosting the game this year, needed $150 million from the city and $348 million from the state of Minnesota to build the U.S. Bank Stadium.

Economists say that the benefits of holding the Super Bowl don’t typically outweigh such high costs.

“They always talk really good about that stuff, and then they go off the rails,” Holy Cross sports economist Victor Matheson told the Times. “[Super Bowl profit estimates have] been criticized as extremely overinflated, inaccurate, even purposely misrepresented.”

Matheson pointed to hotel rooms as an example. Some experts have pledged that the Super Bowl will generate 230,000 nights of hotel stays. That sounds like a big number, but it’s not all profit.

Firstly, that doesn’t mean the city is gaining that number of hotel rates; that’s the total number of stays, not the increase over normal rates. Many of those rooms would have been filled anyway. Secondly, money spent at Minneapolis hotels isn’t necessarily funneled back into the city’s economy—a lot of it goes to the hotels’ parent companies, which are often located elsewhere.

None of this is to say building a stadium is a mistake, necessarily. It just means that for cities that do undertake such a massive project, they had better have secondary reasons for doing so.

“I would not have done a deal just for the football stadium,” said R.T. Rybak, the former Minneapolis mayor who approved funding for the U.S. Bank Stadium. “You don’t build a stadium for the Super Bowl.”

Own a Business? Keep Politics Out of It

A businessman opens his shirt to reveal an American flag underneath.

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Regardless of whether you voted for Hillary, Trump, or a third-party candidate, this key piece of advice remains the same: keep politics out of business. 

While it can be tempting to jump on the political bandwagon, doing so comes at the risk of losing your customers (and ultimately your business). The NFL learned this lesson the hard way.

It all started in 2016, when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest against racial inequality by kneeling during the national anthem. Inspired by Kaepernick, other players decided to do the same. But not everyone viewed it as a peaceful form of protest. Some Americans found kneeling during the national anthem to be disrespectful to the men and women who died defending this country.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it was decidedly a bad call to allow employees of the NFL to insert their personal political agenda into a classic American sport. Why? Because those who disagreed with the act became so enraged that they launched their own form of protest.

Using the hashtag #BurnTheNFL, disgruntled fans started a social media campaign in which they ignited all their NFL merchandise in a sea of flames. Even more impactful, they vowed to stop purchasing game tickets and to stop watching the sport all together.

See the trickle down effect?

The better solution would have been for Kaepernick to protest on his own time and his own dime. What he does outside of work is his business, but so long as he is on the clock, he has an obligation to respect his customers’ opinions. And that’s how it ought to be for all employees and business owners.

As I stated earlier, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Conservative—this is nonpartisan post in which I advise everyone to keep politics out of business.

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