The same firm did a study of the 2010 Super Bowl in South Florida and concluded it was $333 million amid the economic downturn.
Experts say studies inflate benefits of Super Bowl
There is no dispute that a Super Bowl in South Florida draws some high-rollers who rent limos, wine and dine at our best restaurants and clubs, hit the shops at tony malls and book luxurious hotel suites in South Beach, Coral Gables, Fort Lauderdale and other cities. Businesses that cater to these tourists can rake in some hefty profits.
“The Super Bowl is a magic event,” said Broward tourism chief Nicki Grossman, who says direct spending for the 2007 Super Bowl was about $65 million in Broward County. Super Bowl visitors “buy things normally any other traveler wouldn’t. Some spend more to say they spend more.”
Studies by the National Football League or the host committee often peg the impact anywhere between $300 million and $600 million, depending on the analysis. We didn’t find a study predicting the economic impact of the 2016 Super Bowl in South Florida — the 2007 study doesn’t actually predict the impact for 2016. (Economists often look at the impact after the event.) But many independent economists say the benefit is much lower than boosters’ totals.
These economists share a joke: take the boosters’ estimates and move the decimal place one point to the left. Economists say boosters dangle the enormous revenue figures as politicians are weighing whether to support public funding.
Holy Cross Economics Professor Victor Matheson, together with Professor Robert Baade, wrote in a 2004 paper that for Super Bowls held between 1970 and 2001, the host city experienced an average increase in personal income of about $92 million and that the game could not have contributed more than $300 million. In today’s numbers, the $92 million means $120 million and the $300 million would equal just under $400 million, Matheson told PolitiFact Florida.
"Not only is our best guess a fraction of the boosters’ estimates, but we are also quite certain that any estimate over $300 million is flat-out wrong," he said.
Studies by boosters often take the number of attendees and multiply that by expenditures to arrive at a gross direct spending total. Then they use a multiplier to calculate an indirect effect of those initial expenditures circulating around the economy. Matheson told us, “Economic consultants seem to be pretty good at adding and multiplying, but not so good at subtracting.”
Economists say boosters ignore some factors that affect the bottom line, which they call the substitution effect, the crowding out effect, and leakages.
Substitution is when someone spends money on the Super Bowl that they would have spent elsewhere in the economy. Since an event such as the Super Bowl draws so many out-of-town visitors, the substitution effect is far less than from a regular game.
Crowding refers to other visitors deciding to stay away from the area to avoid the congestion, resulting in the loss of spending from those folks. That means if hotels are largely full anyway, economists focus on the net effect from the increased bookings (and inflated costs) — not the total revenues of hotels. (During the 2007 Super Bowl, attendance at Monkey Jungle, a south Miami-Dade tourist attraction, plummeted.)