NEW YORK — Will the snowy New York City area really reap an estimated $600 million economic boost from the Super Bowl? Probably not.
Despite such lofty predictions, sports economists say the financial impact of the Super Bowl could fall far below expectations, in part because visitors often spend their cash at NFL-sponsored or corporate events rather than at tourist attractions. Some hotels say Super Bowl bookings are running behind what they hoped for, prompting them to ease demands for minimum stays and room deposits. And academic studies show that at best, past Super Bowls generated tens of millions, not hundreds of millions.
"Move the decimal point one place to the left," said Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois, who has studied the Super Bowl's impact on local economies. "The NFL says $500 or $600 million? I think $50 to $60 million would be a generous appraisal of what the Super Bowl generates."
The NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, which has worked closely with the NFL to prepare for the Feb. 2 game, has claimed in the yearslong run-up that it would generate $500 to $600 million for the region, but it refused to provide any information on how it tabulated that estimate. An NFL spokesman said the league does not conduct economic impact studies on the Super Bowl.
A study Baade conducted in 2000 showed that the average Super Bowl from the 1970s through the late '90s only accounted for about $32 million each in increased economic activity at the most. The study, which examined tax revenue and other economic factors before and after the Super Bowl, concluded that the 1999 Super Bowl in Miami, for example, only contributed about $37 million to the South Florida economy.
The NFL, by comparison, claimed that 1999 game between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons generated $396 million, the study said.
Porter found that visitors spend money at NFL-funded events and buy NFL-branded memorabilia during Super Bowl week instead of frequenting local establishments.