Super Bowl Prediction: Taxpayers Lose


NYCMarines / Foter / CC BY

Who will win the Super Bowl? Computer simulations suggest it will be the Seahawks by a close margin. But, who will lose? That's a wholly different matter. Regardless of which team scores more touchdowns at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, taxpayers will likely walk away with an "L."

The state of New Jersey has already spent $17.7 million in preparation for the game, much of which has funded infrastructure upgrades for the temporary tourism boost. The Asbury Park Press explains that, "NJ Transit … spent a total of $12.4 million to support Super Bowl-related initiatives," such as extending subway platforms and building new bus service facilities. Not yet calculated is how much beefed-up local law enforcement will cost, though state attorney general's office spokesman Paul Loriquet asured the Press that "the single-digit millions of dollar range" would be a reasonable guess.

New Yorkers will foot the bill, too, since they are co-hosts. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has allotted $5 million of the state budget for Super Bowl-related matters. How will it be spent? The Times Union reports that "the host committee's spokeswoman has refused to take calls or answer most inquiries," but half the money will facilitate a Times Square celebration, $500,000 will wine and dine media personnel, and another $500,000 will fund promotional banners, posters, and scarves. Just like its neighbor, New York will bolster local law enforcement.

Even federal dollars will have some skin in the game. Because the Super Bowl is considered a Level I national security event, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, along with its subsidiary, the Customs and Border Protection agency, and even the Federal Aviation Administration will all be in attendance.

Though, none of these costs quite offsets the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee's projections about economic stimulation. It has, like some politicians, assured that the game will generate a whopping $500-$600 million in activity for the cities.

Unfortunately, those numbers may be wishful thinking.

"The problem with the figures reported… is that they consider all spending associated with the Super Bowl as part of the overall economic impact. However, much of the spending that occurs does not directly improve the local economy, as visitors aren't necessarily buying what the local economy is selling," explains the financial transparency website NerdWallet. The site estimates that the impact will be 60-70 percent less than official estimates, or about $194 million.

Sports economist and Lake Forest College professor Robert Baade is less generous in his calculations. He believes that "$50 to $60 million would be a generous appraisal of what the Super Bowl generates." He previously conducted a study of several decades of Super Bowls; each "only accounted for about $32 million each in increased economic activity" in the host city.

For more Reason coverage of the often unseen cost of professional sports, watch Nick Gillespie's interview with Greg Eastbrook below: 

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  1. reason has to ruin everything.

    1. It's the good kind of ruin.

      1. I like the new kid.

  2. Winning the trophy could cost Manning money,


    a potential 101% risk for him depending on factors like his next season payout that should not be factors at all in New Jersey crooked and communistic tax policy.

  3. Computer simulations suggest it will be the Seahawks by a close margin.


    1. That's not what Madden predicted.

      1. Madden predicted that the team that gets the ball across the line the most will win.

        1. I meant the video game simulation.

        2. And anyone who does something well will be "the best at what they do in the league".

    2. C'mon. You just have to outplay someone who will throw six interceptions in the 2nd half if they are behind.

    3. Say, aren't you a computer programmer?

  4. One thing about this, unlike when discussing Stadium funding in this case whether it is a win or a loss for taxpayers it is likely irrelivant.

    The Superbowl will be held somewhere whether the host city wants it or not (even if they tried to refuse it somehow it is likely they would lose the case in court) so their only decision is how to handle a known influx of several hundred thousand visitors. They can make plans in advance and insure the proper infrastructure and security is in place to meet the need, or they can skip that and hope that nothing goes wrong (if they do nothing and something does go wrong you can be assured there will be lawsuits against the city which dwarf these costs). It is also unlikely that they could bill the NFL or the team for these services since they would not be requesting them directly and the benefits could easily be shown to be going as much or more to the city as the league/team.

    You are probably right that the net economic impact of the Superbowl is small at best and likely negative but this is no different from any other activity which would draw a huge influx of visitors and unlike Stadiums and the like there is probably very little politicians or taxpayers could reasonably do to avoid paying that cost.

    1. Actually, there is a lot they can do, starting with not paying for a new stadium in the first place. NY never would have a superbowl in old Giants stadium. And Superbowl locations aren't decided out of nowhere. There is a bidding process involved that takes rounds of balloting. I also think the people in charge are most likely glad to have everything there. Forget about the economic bonus; they get to act important for a week meet famous people. They mayor is probably invited to every event. Plus you have an excuse to give your friends in the PD and FD overtime, etc. I'm probably only scratching the service.

      1. I have to chuckle at the mention of "old Giants stadium" (i.e. Meadowlands). They must build stadiums out of tissue paper these days for that one to have gotten old so soon.

  5. Xenon,why the Z? Was it to be last? I don't like Zerzes or Zena of the Jungle, nor Zenofon nor Zeroz copy nor a Z on a pirate treasure map.
    Ok. I realize that your parents gave you that moniker but...
    Was Mr. T born with his name? Was God born with...

    1. The first shall be last and the last shall be first.

      It's a less common anglicization of an uncommon name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno

  6. Yeah, but what about all the taxes, state and federal, that the NFL pays each year! Wha???

  7. WTF? The stadium's not going to be any more full than when the Giants or Jets play, and maybe less so considering the weather. So what's all the extra money for? Seriously, what comes with the Super Bowl that doesn't come with a home game? Do a buncha people travel to the vicinity to, like, get the news of the game fresher?

    1. No, they travel to the vicinity to go to the various parties, after parties and otherwise hob nob with the rich and famous

      1. Hadn't considered that, thanks. Still hard to believe the estimate of 400,000 visitors to the region, so I'll just take that as "optimistic".

  8. Extending subway platforms in NEW JERSEY? Where is the subway?

    1. A little of NJT railroad is subway. Ditto PATH, but NJT was cited, so I imagine NJT was what's meant, not PATH.

  9. lol, is it already super bowl time again? Who is playing this year?


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