armchair cultural observation since 1995

Super Bowl’s $600 million economic impact figure doesn’t hold water

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When I read last week that the Super Bowl in New Jersey was going to generate $600 million in revenue for the local economy I was instantly brought back to my days as a local news reporter at meetings where guys in suits would throw out these ridiculous economic impact figures to justify needing crazy tax breaks. If the town didn’t want to play ball, officials were often told with a wink and a nudge, they would be passing on millions of dollars of economic impact that would go to another nearby community (often with a hated high school sports rival) instead.

I didn’t buy it then and I buy it even less when coming from the nonprofit National Football League.

So I’m not surprised, but enlightened to hear Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson, an economist who’s studied Super Bowl impact, says this in a Neil deMause Sports on Earth article:

“Imagine an airplane landing at an airport and everyone gets out and gives each other a million bucks, then gets back on the plane. That’s $200 million in economic activity, but it’s not any benefit to the local economy.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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