Super Bowl: How much money is it really worth?

Boosters, critics disagree over how much revenue the game generates.

By Times wires
Published May 26, 2007

MIAMI - Colts: 29. Bears: 17. The South Florida economy: $463 million.

That's the final score for Super Bowl XLI according to a study released earlier this week by organizers. But the claim drew flags from academics questioning a Super Bowl's ability to generate that much of a financial boost.

More than 112, 000 people traveled to South Florida for the Feb. 4 game, spending $298-million. Add in money spent during preparations - and businesses spending their post-game windfalls - and the indirect benefit topped $463-million, according to the study by the Sports Research Institute in West Palm Beach.

Kathleen Davis, the study's author, pointed to a huge influx of affluent visitors in one of the country's largest hotel markets. More than half of businesses polled said sales increased in the days before Super Bowl, with the average gain approaching 40 percent.

Closer to home, Tampa, which has hosted three Super Bowls, is the site for Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, 2009.

The report is sure to be a flash point in another contest that unfolds each year far from the Super Bowl sidelines: the sniping between game boosters and economists over the spending generated. Critics claim the National Football League overstates a Super Bowl's gains to encourage public subsidies.

Padding Required, a 2004 study by two economics professors of Super Bowls between 1970 and 2001, found the games generated a quarter of the dollars that boosters claimed. For last year's Super Bowl XL, Detroit's host committee released a study showing roughly $150-million in economic impact for the region. A rival study by Anderson Economic Group put the figure around $50-million.

Still, there's no doubt the game helped the hospitality sector. Hotel taxes in Miami-Dade surged 15 percent in February, and room revenues surged between 11 and 21 percent from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, according to state and industry data.

Fast Facts:

Super Bowl stats
The Super Bowl XLI report included a survey of nearly 3, 000 attendees of the game and related events. Among the findings:

- Super Bowl XLI drew about 112, 000 visitors to South Florida. Of that, more than 41, 000 did not hold game tickets. Roughly 70, 000 people attended the Super Bowl.
- The average visitor spent $668 a day, compared to the current 2007 average of between $150 and $250.
- Nearly 10 percent of visitors arrived by private plane.