Super Bowl Decoded: The Financial Impact of the Big Game

It's not just the commercials that bring in big money on Super Bowl Sunday

(Image: Getty)


With thousands of people coming into a city during Super Bowl weekend—eating in restaurants and staying in hotels, adding up to about $5,000 per visitor—the assumption is that this activity would give a healthy boost to the respective city’s economy. However, there have been debates on the true financial impact of the Super Bowl for more than 20 years.

On one side, host committees who conduct studies surrounding the game report numbers between $200 and $500 million. On the other side are experts in sports economics, such as those in “Super Bowl or Super (Hyper)bole,” who claim that the average impact is closer to $92 million. These economists believe that the host committees and the NFL inflate the numbers in order to entice cities to build new stadiums and make their city more likely to win the bid to host future NFL championships.

Meanwhile, host committees state that the economists lack the necessary information to come up with numbers closer to the actual figures of the net economic gain. Though the economic gain of each city varies, according to the host committee, Green Bay saw the highest amount brought in at $500 million.

Lucas Oil Stadium, where this year’s Super Bowl XLVI will be held, was built three years ago and is valued at $720 million. The Colts contributed $100 million while the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana and Lucas Oil—who paid $122 million for naming rights over the next 20 years—contributed to the rest to the project.

The downtown area contains about 7,100 hotel rooms, but the Indianapolis host committee secured approximately 18,300 hotel rooms within a 45-mile radius for those attending Super Bowl festivities. Along with that citywide reservation comes stiffer prices. To put the increase in hotel rooms in perspective, as of January 24th a room at Super 8 Indianapolis on the Saturday before Super Bowl XLVI would cost $500 a night. Meanwhile the same room the following weekend would run for just $55 per night.

Even the parking at the stadium for game day can range from $55 to almost $1,000. These are only a few factors, nonetheless, restaurants, retailers and all local businesses may be happy for the extra foot traffic associated with the Super Bowl coming to town. The only downside is their usual customers generally avoid the stores during this weekend since they know they will be overcrowded.

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