Hosting a Super Bowl is a money loser this year

The Super Bowl XLIX logo is displayed on the University of Phoenix Stadium before the Pro Bowl Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Glendale, Ariz. The venue will also host Super Bowl XLIX between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Glendale, Arizona — where the Super Bowl will be played next Sunday — provides a cautionary tale for cities trying to be a destination by investing heavily in sports franchises and big events. It’s a money loser, the Associated Press reports today.

It bet big on spring training facilities for baseball, a stadium for the Super Bowl and the NFL’s Cardinals, and a hockey arena for the NHL team.

The city almost went bankrupt, fired 25 percent of the municipal workforce, cut back on paving projects, and reduce hours at municipal swimming pools and libraries. The 9.2 percent sales tax that shoppers and diners pay in Glendale is among the highest in the state, the Associated Press says.

In the case of the Super Bowl, (Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers) believes the city is paying dearly. He said Glendale will actually lose a “couple million dollars” by hosting the event. It’s spending huge amounts of money on overtime and police and public safety costs associated with hosting the Super Bowl but getting very little in return.

Super Bowl visitors are mostly staying in Phoenix and Scottsdale and only showing up in Glendale on game day, meaning the city won’t see much of a boost in tax revenue. And the city was hoping the state would reimburse Glendale for its police overtime costs, but lawmakers have scoffed at the idea.

Weiers said it pains him that the city had to cut services and lay off workers, but the moves were necessary to ensure financial solvency. He said the outlook has improved in the last year, a far cry from a couple years ago when Glendale was in jeopardy of joining the likes of Detroit in the category of municipal bankruptcies.

“I have to believe that if `1′ is perfect as things could be and `10′ was bankruptcy, I’d say we were a strong `8,'” Weiers said. “We never had to go there, and I strongly believe we won’t have to go there.”

Despite his claim that the city will lose money on the game, the mayor said he’s aware of the name recognition that goes along with hosting the Super Bowl. He believes having the city’s name broadcast to an audience of more than 100 million people will bring visitors, even if the city’s planned hotel district didn’t take off as originally expected.

The mayor of Glendale thinks the Super Bowl will still attract Midwesterners to his city when they see palm trees and people in shorts during the game while they sit inside on a cold day.

That will be cold comfort to people who lost their jobs because of the city’s big gamble.

Update 12:12 p.m. – Here’s the agreement between Glendale and the NFL.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    I wonder what their term sheet was in their bid to get it.

  • Gary F

    For the average taxpayer most of these events are losers. But our cities still chase them. And for some reason, we learn about how bad they are after the event and not before.

    How much will we lose on our Super Bowl? How much was promised? What are the inner workings of the deals?

    Sounds like a great story for an enterprising young journalist.

  • Dave

    We keep reading stories like this, yet cities (including ours) keep pursuing these events, stadiums, franchises, etc. Oh, but it “puts us on the map.”

    FWIW, I was once in Phoenix for a week doing some work. It’s not a nice city. The weather is great, but it’s not any kind of tourist destination. I don’t know anything about Glendale, but being that it’s attached to Phoenix, I don’t feel much of a reason to go there, palm trees notwithstanding.

    • It’s a dry heat…

      My father-in-law lives in the Phoenix area and loves it there. Of course he is also a member of a “posse” run by that clown Joe Arpaio and is a staunch conservative (which are in abundance down there).

      Needless to say, we don’t see eye to eye on politics and I can’t see myself ever going down that way for any reason whatsoever. If I want to see the SW, I’ll hit Santa Fe or go back to my birthplace in California.

  • Jack

    I was in Arizona recently and swung by the stadium. There’s a large mall in the area but they would have to do a tremendous amount of business in order to make the money back.

    Traffic was a bear there two Saturday’s ago – can’t imagine what it was like during the Pro Bowl.

    Loved the weather but there is no place like home. Having said that, I have no desire to be anywhere near the new “Viking Boat” during the Super Bowl.

  • steinbeckian

    I am of course speculating, but I don’t see Minneapolis faring the same as Glendale, as in our case, the Super Bowl will be in the middle of a well-developed downtown. Aside from the stadium, we don’t have to build much by way of infrastructure, and we were going to build that anyway. From reading this, it sounds like Glendale went on a construction binge more in keeping with hosting an Olympics.