The news from last week's release of the economic impact from this year’s Super Bowl and Pro Bowl was that the Miami Dolphins plan to continue pursuing public dollars for renovations to Sun Life Stadium to keep it competitive to host future Super Bowls.
Even though the economic impact study by West Palm Beach-based Sport Management Research Institute showed the two games this year generated less for local businesses than the 2007 Super Bowl alone, Super Bowl Host Committee and Dolphins officials still said they were pleased and will use the figures to help bolster their argument for public support.
According to the SMRI study, the two games this year pumped a total $333 million into South Florida businesses. The 2007 Super Bowl, held when the economy was healthy, brought local businesses $463 million, SMRI’s study of the 2007 game showed. Differences were blamed on the economy and that the Indianapolis Colts were the AFC team in both the 2007 and 2010 games, meaning the novelty had worn off.
That figure was also markedly less than the $396 million SMRI said the 1999 Super Bowl generated for the region.
SMRI studies show direct spending by Super Bowl visitors was $141.5 million this year; $279 million in 2007 and $239 million in 1999. Direct spending is what visitors actually spend in hotels and restaurants and on other goods and services. The larger figures include indirect spending – the dollars spent for businesses to prepare for the game – and induced spending or the re-circulation of dollars made from the Super Bowl back into the economy.
This year’s Super Bowl drew 109,059 visitors – down from the 112,403 in 2007. They spent less -- $401.44 per day down from $668.60 a day in 2007, according to the study. They also stayed a shorter time -- 3.12 nights this year, compared with 5.11 in 2007 – which also reflects that some New Orleans Saints fans drove -- rather than flew -- to the game. The visitors reported an average annual income of $220,323 down slightly from the $222,318 reported in 2007, but significantly higher than typical non-Super Bowl visitors, who average salaries of $46,000 to $80,000. Room rates fell this year, but hotel occupancy rates rose.
“It’s a sign of the times,” said Kathleen Davis, SMRI president. “We didn’t do anything different from the last time we did this. The story is the consumer sentiment is not where it was.”
Davis said she thinks the study shows South Florida was a successful host for the Pro Bowl, since that generated a total of $99.3 million, including $59.9 million in direct spending.
The SMRI study also bears out that Broward County serving for the first time as host location for the NFL headquarters and Super Bowl media center, meant a greater economic impact than for Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. Broward realized direct spending of $57.6 million compared with $39.6 million in Miami-Dade and $12.2 million in Palm Beach, the report shows.
Critics routinely say Super Bowls generate far less than impact studies report because they don’t take into consideration many of the dollars don’t stay in the community, but instead go the corporate headquarters of local hotels, and fail to consider that Super Bowl visitors displace tourists who would otherwise come to destinations like South Florida.
But South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee and Dolphins officials said the fact that this year’s figures for two games are considerably smaller than for one game in 2007 should prove the numbers are genuine
“This came at a really good time,” Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said of the two games. “The fact it was less, for those who think those numbers are fuzzy, these numbers are real.”
Dick Anderson, the former Dolphin who chaired a panel studying whether the region should host future Super Bowls, said the numbers should show the event is valuable to South Florida.
His panel's study shows stadium improvements are “absolutely necessary for future Super Bowls, Pro Bowls, and other large scale events that differentiate the South Florida region from other regions throughout the country." The report goes on to say: "Each year that improvements are not made makes them more urgent and more expensive in the years to come as the community competes for future Super Bowls…Engaging the public in a meaningful dialogue to demonstrate the economic and ancillary benefits to our community is important in this effort.”
In January, the Dolphins unveiled renderings of potential renovations that include a canopy-style roof covering seats, but leaving the field open to the elements, replacing the lower bowl and moving seats closer to the field. The work is expected to cost $187 million.
Team officials are working on plans to finance the improvements and expect to unveil them later this year. Among the arguments for public financing are expected to be that the Sun Life Stadium has received no public dollars for football. A recent $300 million upgrade was paid for by the team.
Anderson’s panel’s research shows that since 1995, 25 NFL stadiums have either been built or renovated – not including the New York Giants and Jets New Meadowland Stadium, which opens this year – to the tune of $8.8 billion. The public portion of those dollars varies from team to team, but averages 63 percent of the total. Sun Life Stadium is the only one that has not received public dollars for football.
Expect to see those figures repeated.