Examining the Super Bowl's Balance Sheet

The day after the big game, Diana Lind, with the help of a <em>Planet Money</em> Podcast, delves into the economic ramifications of hosting a super bowl, and wonders whether Indianapolis might not turn out to be the night's biggest loser.
February 6, 2012, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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By all accounts, the city of Indianapolis did a terrific job of hosting last weekend's Super Bowl. In fact, in a boon to pedestrian-friendly planning everywhere, and to the city's tourism prospects, many national commentators paid specific praise to the city's compact walkability.

However, Lind and the Planet Money team critique the overly rosy projections of the National Football League regarding revenue generated for the host city. With a substantial cost to tax payers and a large portion of profits from the event flowing to the multinational private sector, Lind contemplates the overall value of the event to the city. In doing the math though, she seems to overlook the fact that the stadium was not built to host just one event.

"This stadium was built largely off of taxpayer money. And most taxpayers didn't get a say in that decision. Rather than just build a stadium, that money should have been spent more broadly on other projects in the downtown. The Super Bowl proves the idea that 'if you build it, they will come.' But there are other things, beyond stadiums, that could be built to attract people and investment to the downtown. Imagine if the state had invested $1 million in 720 different projects in the downtown. That would have been pretty, well, super."

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Published on Monday, February 6, 2012 in Next American City
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