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Sports Business

How will critics rage against Super Bowl impact now?

July 20, 2012
KEYWORDS Sports Business

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.

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