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Super Bowl matchup ‘touchdown’ for city, experts say

January 23, 2012

The two teams traveling to Indianapolis for this year’s Super Bowl should give the city the matchup it favors, at least from a business perspective.

Local fans might not be crazy that the New England Patriots, a big rival of the Indianapolis Colts, are facing the New York Giants for a chance to claim a fourth National Football League championship in the past 10 years.

But from an economic-impact standpoint, the game on Feb. 5 presents a better opportunity for local establishments to maximize revenue than if the Baltimore Ravens or San Francisco 49ers had advanced, experts contend.

The NFL estimates Indianapolis will draw 100,000 to 150,000 visitors who could spend $200 million over a 10-day span.  

So, hosting a Super Bowl is a huge benefit, no matter which teams play. But hospitality industry experts such as Robert Tuchman, president of New York-based event-planning company Elite Experiences, say there’s no disputing that followers of the Patriots and Giants travel much better and have deeper pockets than fans of the teams they defeated.

“It's absolutely a home run--Or should I say touchdown?--for the people of Indianapolis,” he said. “As long as they can put up with a bunch of obnoxious New Yorkers and New Englanders, it will be good.”
 
Tuchman, whose firm compiles packages for major sporting events, said he's already being “flooded” with requests from fans eager to travel to Indianapolis.

Most of New York City’s population is made up of Giants fans. The fact that this year’s game will feature a rematch of the 2008 Super Bowl, when the Giants beat the Patriots 17-14, only fuels interest, he said.

That game was played in Glendale, Ariz., much farther from the East Coast than Indianapolis, which also bodes well for the central Indiana region expecting to capitalize on the crush of visitors.

“They certainly will come and they will spend, there’s no doubt,” Tuchman said of Giants fans. “The same thing with New England. They’re both very corporate towns, and they have fans all over the country.”

Conversely, Baltimore’s fan base is smaller than New England’s, and San Francisco’s doesn’t travel as well as New York’s, he said.

Other experts agree that a Giants-Patriots matchup will benefit Indianapolis, but are a bit more tempered in their optimism.

Mark Rosentraub, a University of Michigan professor of sports management, said the game will be a sellout no matter which teams are playing, and the downtown hotels still will be booked.

“Having the teams a bit closer, with notable fan bases that travel well and spend well, you’ll probably see a minor increment over what might have happened,” he said. “But nothing that would be super-dramatic.”

It’s often easy to focus too much on economic impact, he argued.

“And that’s where you try to remind people that spending doesn’t translate into regional growth,” Rosentraub maintained. “The Super Bowl is great. But don’t assume that every dollar spent literally stays in the city of Indianapolis.”

Michael Casinelli, owner of Marketing Information Masters Inc. in San Diego, said no firm data exists to show which teams will create the best economic impacts for host cities. But, he said, there's no disputing the game should create plenty of attention for the city.

"You've got two marquee quarterbacks in [Eli] Manning and [Tom] Brady," he said. "The hype around this game will be tremendous."
 
Tickets for the game are commanding big bucks already on the aftermarket. StubHub is asking $2,500 to $20,000 each, with a face value of $800 to $1,200. The holders of two corporate suites are asking for much more on the website: $704,724 and $882,375.

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