Professor pours cold water on report lauded by officials on Super Bowl's economic impact

Expert claims report doesn't fall within trend established by independent research

Adam Carter
May 30, 2018 - 12:30 pm

(Photo by Anthony Souffle/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS/Sipa USA)

There may be reasons to be skeptical of the figures in a report being touted by the Super Bowl organizers about the economic impact the event had on the Twin Cities.

The report, conducted by Rockport Analytics and released by the Super Bowl Host Committee and the Governor's Office on Tuesday,  concluded that Super Bowl LII brought in $370 million in new spending, $50 million more than the consulting firm’s pre-Super Bowl projections, according to the Associated Press.

But Andrew Zimbalist, a professor of economics at Smith College who has long been skeptical of the lasting economic impact of large sporting events, said that while he hasn’t studied this report yet, he think the numbers seem high.

“My sense is, based up previous academic, or independent or scholarly research, not research that’s hired by the people that organized the event—based on prior research, it’s very, very unlikely that the net impact would have exceeded a hundred million and it’s more likely that it wouldn’t exceed 50 million,” he told WCCO Radio’s Adam Carter.

Zimbalist mentioned several factors he thinks should be considered:

While Rockport did subtract $80 million for local tourism displaced by the Superbowl, Zimbalist said it’s very hard to determine a net impact.

“One of the things that happens at these events is that people who are not interested in attending the event or not interested in going to the Super Bowl activities during the prior week and don't want to deal with all the commotion and traffic and potential for security instances — these people very often leave town,” Zimbalist said. “And so you can have some people who are football fans coming and spending money that weekend, but some of the regular residents decide they are going to go to Chicago that weekend or decide they are going to go to Madison or go somewhere else.”

Another factor: The NFL requires that the host city not charge sales tax at all NFL themed activities in the week leading up to the event, and when people spend money at those events instead of at local business, that means the city loses potential tax revenue.

Listen to the full interview here:

Editor’s note: This is not a reported news piece, but a write up to accompany a radio interview and as such, reflects the point of view of the person being interviewed.