For the record: I have nothing against football or football fans. I appreciate the enthusiasm that people have for their hobbies and activities, and I want people to continue to enjoy what they enjoy, as long as it harms no one. This post is entirely about the Super Bowl itself and the impact that it has on a city. Football has no other meaning to this post except for the fact that it happens to be the sporting event for this bowl.
The Super Bowl [Note 1] is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the professional American Football league.
On Sunday, 04 Feb 2018, Super Bowl LII will be hosted in Minneapolis, Minnesota at US Bank Stadium (also known as that damn Sandcrawler [Note 2]). Up to 1 million visitors    are expected, and the NFL is projecting that it will bring $350-407 million    to our local economy. Hotels have been booked, tickets are being sold, and plans have been put into place. Areas of Downtown Minneapolis will be cordoned off, security will be enhanced, and Minneapolis will be a hub of activity for a short amount of time.
Frankly, this is terrible news for the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area [Note 3], or pretty much any municipality. When the Super Bowl arrives in a city, there is an expectation that there will be a boost to the local economy; however, the numbers that are often provided to entice cities to vie for the Super Bowl to visit them are grossly inflated and leave out the expenses needed to make the Super Bowl happen. In fact, there is no overall benefit to the local economy, even though the prices of goods and services increase. On top of that, law enforcement agencies are stretched thin, traffic becomes incredibly congested (if it was not already), and pollution increases.
While sporting events are entertaining, and a bit of competition can be healthy, greed and avarice ruins it for everybody. With some societal changes and changes to how the profits from teams and stadiums are handled, a Superbowl coming to a city can become a very good thing.
Inflated Superbowl Numbers
Super Bowl LII promised the City of Minneapolis up to 1 million visitors and $350-407 million dollars; however, these numbers are inflated. According to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, only 125,400 people are actually expected to visit the Twin Cities from out of state, and the rest of that 1 million number comes from local cities   and 5,000 members of the media , where families and non-ticketed persons will be using Minneapolis resources. The inflated numbers comes from the methodology that the NFL and the Host Committee uses to count visitors and to determine who qualifies as a visitor. On top of that, economics gives us three concepts that show that Super Bowl spending is not helpful: it’s trivial in the context of the US economy, it reduces other types of spending, and it’ll even out , as it does not factor in the expenses that go into the Super Bowl and how funds are moved around.
Under how the Host Committee is counting potential visitors, someone attending two different events along Nicollet Mall counts as two visitors , and given that there are ten days of events leading up to the Super Bowl, that gives plenty of opportunities for double- and triple-counting of people. Even in Houston last year, the post-game estimate was closer to 150,000 people , which is more than any Super Bowl before it . While these numbers are substantial, there are not going to be as many visitors as anticipated - “the ‘crowding-out’ effect due to perceptions relating to limited hotel rooms and high hotel prices, rowdy behavior of football fans, and peak use of public goods such as highways and sidewalks are substantial”  , putting an additional damper on the dollars brought into an area. Ultimately, Super Bowls do not bring in the number of people that they promise while driving away other persons who were either already in the area or wanted to be there.
Economic impact is determined by estimating the number of “visitor days” and multiplying it by average estimated expenditures per visitor , but with the inflated visitor numbers, an inflated economic impact is estimated. These inflated estimates do not take into account where the visitors come from, money disappearing, other sources of income being displaced   , NFL giveaways, and lists of demands from the NFL to a host city  all of which make the economic boom much smaller. The increase to an economy can be as little as one-tenth to one-quarter of what the NFL projects  in the best-case scenarios, and can even hurt the economy instead of help it , as San Francisco discovered when it became the Super Bowl City when the event itself was in Santa Clara  . Taxpayers are left with the bill when it comes to getting ready for the Super Bowl     [Note 4], especially if a formal deal is not made with the NFL. The City of Minneapolis and the State of Minnesota has already spent over $500 million in tax dollars to bring the Super Bowl here, and will be spending over $678 million tax dollars over the next 30 years to keep the stadium going  - just imagine what would happen if the Minnesota Vikings moved to another city or completely folded, like what happened to the Minneapolis Marines/Minneapolis Red Jackets and the Duluth Kelleys/Duluth Eskimos.
Ultimately, there is a 23% probability that the Super Bowl will have a negative impact on the economy  . Hotels and restaurants typically don’t add more hours or staff (let alone increase wages) for the Super Bowl, money spent by people on the Super Bowl is taken from money spent elsewhere, and regular visitors stay away when the Super Bowl is in town     . To quote The Guardian: “it may not be as lucrative as a week of orthodontists’ meetings or a toolmakers’ convention, neither of whom require the hassle or expenses of a Super Bowl”  - so why not encourage these conventions instead? Personally, I am a huge fan of Science Fiction conventions (as you may know, I’ve been a panelist at MantiCon and CONvergence, and I will be on panels at the upcoming MarsCon), so why not bring more people together in a less disruptive manner? At least, until society is ready to be less disruptive at sporting events.
Law Enforcement, Traffic, and Pollution
To help secure Super Bowl LII and the Super Bowl activities leading up to the big game, Minneapolis Police Department (which has about 840 sworn officers and 300 civilian employees ) is receiving assistance from Saint Paul, the inner ring suburbs, and even borrowing some police officers from Greater Minnesota   , bringing together more than 3,000 public safety personnel made up from 60 statewide agencies   . On top of all of this, the Minnesota National Guard is being activated      to assist in the security of the Super Bowl, while the FBI is sending extra agents to assist in anti-terrorism efforts  . This is a unique challenge for the Super Bowl, as Minneapolis Police is relatively small (and requiring help from multiple agencies) - for example, Super Bowl LI was hosted in Houston, which had over 5,000 officers to call on   .
Another unique challenge is that Minneapolis, the largest city in Minnesota, is the host city for both the Superbowl and most of the events - most Super Bowl host stadiums are located in one of the suburbs ; this means that a significant portion of Downtown has been cordoned off to accommodate Super Bowl activities - streets have been closed, and barriers have been erected    . A significant portion of Downtown Minneapolis is closed off and restricted  , and your parking pass may be revoked and resold . This disrupts the lives of the 160,000 people who commute to Downtown daily , including those who work on the weekends. Metro Transit is changing how it operates to accommodate this   , and only those holding an official Super Bowl LII ticket, along with a Gameday Fan Express Pass will go through security checkpoints and board light-rail at either Überdale [Note 5] (Blue Line) or Stadium Village (Green Line) stations  , and though extra buses are running to help people get around, it is still a major impact for the people who live in the area.
The street closures and traffic redirection creates additional traffic congestion, bringing about increased pollution. Plus, the additional flights into the Twin Cities is adding to the noise pollution in the area  , but it is not affecting the Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) alone - Saint Paul’s Holman Field is also closing runways to accommodate the extra private jets, and others are being sent to Rochester (and potentially Saint Cloud) for parking . MSP, Holman Field, Anoka County-Blaine Airport, and Flying Cloud Airport are all expecting heavier traffic in and out for the Superbowl . All of this has a deleterious impact on person’s well-being.
Super Bowls are bad business in general, and will not be kind to the City of Minneapolis in particular. While I support people being fans and enjoying the things that they enjoy, the huge spectacle has a negative impact on metro areas. Through inflated guest numbers, misrepresented economic statements, overtime, taxes, a lack of increased pay, and an increase in traffic, the only benefit that a city gets from having a Super Bowl is the ability to say “we hosted a Super Bowl” - other than that, there is no advantage. Minneapolis’s unique stadium location will make the situation worse, increasing the stress of hosting a Super Bowl.
- There are a number of people who call the Super Bowl the "Superb Owl." Personally, I love the name - I find it to be quite superb.
- US Bank Stadium has earned the title that damn Sandcrawler because of its shape (it looks like a Jawa Sandcrawler from Star Wars: A New Hope) and that the funds were given without a vote. While under construction, the stadium was also called that damn Ark of the Covenant because it looked like the Ark of the Covenant from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
- When I say Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, I mean specifically Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and the first-ring suburbs.
- When constructing the US Bank Stadium, funding largely came from gambling and tax revenue [C] [E]. Instead of combating gentrification in the city, the tax revenue from Minneapolis residents went into building the stadium. Analysis showed that there would be a boost to jobs [F], but the city isn’t really seeing much out of it due to the corporate welfare being given to the stadium [A] [B] and the already-hidden funding that the Minnesota Vikings receives [D]. The supposed $1.027 billion final cost of the stadium [C] is a lot of money, especially considering the number of repairs that have gone into the all-glass superstructure and the number of birds that repeatedly fly into the stadium walls.
A. Callaghan, Peter. “The fight over funding U.S. Bank Stadium isn't over.” MinnPost, Andrew Wallmeyer, 12 Jan. 2017, www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2017/01/fight-over-funding-us-bank-stadium-isn-t-over
B. Kohler, Ed. “The Minneapolis taxes you'll be paying for the Vikings stadium.” MinnPost, Andrew Wallmeyer, 13 June 2012, www.minnpost.com/minnesota-blog-cabin/2012/06/minneapolis-taxes-you%E2%80%99ll-be-paying-vikings-stadium.
C. Murphy, Brian. “U.S. Bank Stadium: What it cost and by the numbers.” Twin Cities Pioneer Press, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 31 July 2016, 9:00 am, www.twincities.com/2016/07/31/u-s-bank-stadium-by-the-numbers/.
D. Platt, Adam. “Is U.S. Bank Stadium worth it? A look at the numbers behind the Vikings' $1.1 billion home.” MinnPost, Andrew Wallmeyer, 26 Aug. 2016, www.minnpost.com/twin-cities-business/2016/08/us-bank-stadium-worth-it-look-numbers-behind-vikings-11-billion-home.
E. Roper, Eric. “Taxes to pay for now-Open U.S. Bank Stadium rebound, thanks to gamblers.” Star Tribune, Michael J. Klingensmith, 22 July 2016, 9:22PM, www.startribune.com/taxes-to-pay-for-u-s-bank-stadium-rebound/387999002/.
F. “U.S. Bank Stadium Economic Impact.” Minnesota Vikings, www.vikings.com/stadium/new-stadium/economic-impact.html.
- Überdale is another name for the Mall of America - it is called that by some because of our other malls named dale (Southdale, Ridgedale, Rosedale) and because it is the largest mall in the United States (in terms of total floor area).
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