How will critics rage against Super Bowl impact now?

July 20, 2012
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The Super Bowl and its resulting economic impact produce a lot of big numbers. The one thing I’ve learned in 13 years as a sports business reporter and nearly 10 years as a government reporter before that is that big numbers need to be put into context.

A study commissioned by the 2012 Super Bowl Host Committee and released this week showed the big game had an enormous economic impact on Indianapolis, with $151.7 million in visitor impact.

But how big was the impact? A closer look at the numbers gives a better perspective.

First of all, let’s take a look at the value of the media exposure. According to the study done by Pennsylvania-based Rockport Analytics, the Super Bowl generated $8.4 million in media exposure for Indianapolis; $5.9 million in print, $2.28 million in online and $256,300 in broadcast.

To put this in context, the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association’s annual advertising budget is less than $1.8 million. So the Super Bowl generated more than four times in media value than the city’s primary advertising source.

The ICVA for years has been trying to attract the Society of American Travel Writers annual conference. Few other conferences generate as much media coverage for the host city as does the SATW gathering. Indianapolis will host the coveted event—which is only held in the U.S. about once every four years—this September.
It will draw writers from the L.A. Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and ABC News to name a few. ICVA estimates the gathering of hundreds of the nation’s most well-known travel writers will generate $3 million in exposure for central Indiana over the next year.

There’s no U.S. city that wouldn’t love to host this annual event for its media exposure. Yet, the Super Bowl scores its host city nearly three times the amount of media attention as the SATW gathering. For more on the SATW gathering see the upcoming IBJ print edition.

A few other nuggets help shed some light on the scope of the Super Bowl.

For the 10-day period from Jan. 27-Feb. 5 this year, the city and state generate $46 million in visitor-generate taxes. Wow, that sounds like a big number. But how big? In the four years before the Super Bowl, the same 10-day period brought in $6 million in visitor-generate taxes. It’s safe to say that visitor taxes that go straight to the city and state during a Super Bowl year are about eight times what they would be during a normal year.

Central Indiana hotels were at 93 percent capacity for the four days leading up to the Super Bowl. Those hotel rooms charged an average of $290 per night. The normal rate for that time of year across all central Indiana hotels: $95.

Game attendees and other non-local visitors spent $264 million locally during Super Bowl XLVI. That’s $571 per person per day. Typical convention and group travelers spend $221 per person per day.

There’s always a lot of talk about money generated locally during a big event being shipped to a corporate headquarters somewhere out of town. The Rockport study concluded that 84 cents of each dollar spent here, stayed here.

The idea of hosting the Super Bowl has always had its fair share of critics here. And I don't expect that to necessarily change. I can hear those critics now. This study was bought and paid for by local Indianapolis officials. That’s true. But Rockport is a company with a national reputation, and companies like that don’t generally fudge numbers.

Is the study painted with a slightly rose colored brush? Perhaps.

Is the Super Bowl worth going after again? Given that much of the infrastructure needed—both in terms of the stadium, human resource horsepower and corporate buy-in—is in place, I’d say the answer is obvious. But I’ll let you determine that for yourselves.

  • Rage and Howl?
    Most Super Bowl critics have valid objections to the self-promotion. Does the economic impact neasure net benefits, including all costs and investments? Is the multiplier about true incremental, local benefits? Are the local benefits captured by a small special interest group (ICVA) and funded by the community? Are there other projects with an even higher local impact that could be funded or leveraged by the citizens and local boosters? These are legitimate questions, which every successful business owner and manager applies daily to prioritize and evaluate projects. I thought the Super Bowl had a good local ROI and we should seek another. I think there are other high ROI projects that should also be considered, like mass transit.
  • Pan Am Plaza
    Hope the old curmudgeon who's holding up this parcel gets the boot so that new 4/5 star hotel can get going. That property has been held up by that guy for so long sounds like the city needs to 'eminent domain' it to get it moving.
  • ...but less in my pocket.
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard all that about millions in good will, free advertising, etc., BUT it's a net loss in my pocket due to us locals shelling out extra for every meal out, supporting the stadium expenses for the Colts while they keep the procedes, more etc's... So, you think we're like mushrooms, you know, keep 'em in the dark and feed them _________ ?
    • what?
      Goodness, Ronald A. West, we could have saved those pennies we pay when we dine out and forego Super Bowls, Final Fours, Big Ten Championships, the additional convention space, etc.
    • Ronald, I still laugh at the folks complaining about the "Stadium Tax". Spending .01 cents per dollar has got to be breaking you and hundreds of others. If you are wealthy and you take your lady out to St. Elmos to eat, on your $150 bill, it is going to cost you a salty $1.50. If that is going to break you, then you have bigger problems than a .01 cent tax. If you are of more modest means, that tax on your trip with your lady to McD's would be .15 cents on that $15.00 meal. Real budget breakers. Lets say you really like to eat out. Lets say you average $200 a week in eating out. That means you are spending $2 a week or $104 on $10,400. if that breaks you, then maybe you should be eating at home more. The ironic thing is many of the restaurants that you will be spending your extra tax dollars at either exists because of the Stadium, or benefits because it is there.
    • Thanks Ronald
      ....for my morning laugh. sorry hosting the superbowl cost you a little extra on your meal out. Indy is far from the only city that has taxes to pay for sports stadium. if Indy did away with the tax and eliminated all sporting events and sold the Colts, you really think Indy would be a better place?
    • Perspective
      Any business that counts revenue without subtracting expenses would be not only be facing the Sec but also be bankrupt and sharing a cell with Tim Durham. Cheer leading is good, but losing money and presenting it as a profit is just wrong.
    • Ronald's complaint
      Not sure what’s so funny. Ronald is free to complain about the taxes that he disagrees with. And his complaint appears to be about the fact that the Colts receive a majority of the proceeds from events held at LOS not about paying for LOS itself. Others will counter that’s the nature of the NFL these days. Perhaps, although not so in New England or Green Bay and those present a model that could address the issue. In New England, the owner owns the stadium and rightfully keeps all revenue from stadium events. In Green Bay, the team and stadium are community-owned. Also, regarding the comment that many restaurants exist because of the Stadium, I doubt the Willard in Franklin or the Cracker Barrell in Greenfield are reliant upon LOS for their existence. But their patrons pay the tax. That said, Indy should endeavor to host another Super Bowl
      • Ronald's complaint
        Indymoon, anyone is free to complain and disagree, but it would be difficult to argue that the stadium and its events, or even having the Colts in town are not worth the 1% tax on eating out. If it were really that much of an injustice I would probably eat at home.

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