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The Real Loser in the Super Bowl: the Host City's Taxpayers

Mark Byrnes breaks down the math on this year's Super Bowl and finds the host city of Glendale, Arizona getting shortchanged.
February 1, 2015, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Mark Byrnes balances the checkbook on the city of Glendale, Arizona's investment in the University of Phoenix Stadium and finds that the city's interests fall wall short of the NFL's. 

First of all the cost to the taxpayers of the city and the state: "$302.3 million from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority and $9.5 million from the City of Glendale to build the stadium. (The team contributed $143.2 million.)"

Then this weekend, "the Phoenix suburb is expecting to spend $2.1 million on security for Super Bowl week.​"

Then there's the revenue expected to return to the city as a result of this weekend's hoopla: "PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates $206 million in direct spending (tourism, lodging and transportation) will flow into the metro area as a result of this year's Super Bowl, but adds that after inflation the figure is two percent lower than projected for Glendale's first Super Bowl, back in 2008. For that event, the city of Glendale collected approximately $1.24 million in direct revenue and state shared sales taxes."

Which, Byrnes concludes, is "not an especially exciting bottom line considering more than 40 percent of Glendale's current debt 'is dedicated to paying off sports complexes,' as reported in the New York Times last weekend."

The article includes more details on how the NFL makes the case for new stadium investments and how localities get the short end of the stick, including the example of East Rutherford, New Jersey, which hosted the event in 2014.

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Published on Friday, January 30, 2015 in CityLab
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