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Super Bowl XLVIII will 'put New York on the map'

Speaking of that economic story I referenced a couple of posts down, here is a complete transcript of my conversation with Andrew Zimbalist, the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College, on this subject.

(By the way, Mr. Zimbalist's sons, Jeff and Mike, are the directors of the excellent soccer documentary "The Two Escobars," premiering on ESPN June 22.)

On the economic impact of a Super Bowl in the New York area (sarcastically):

“I think it will put New York on the map. People generally have never heard of New York. You might even get a few tourists.”

More seriously, on potential economic benefits:

“There are conflicting forces. One force that is positive for New York is the Super Bowl usually is held in a warm climate. If you hold the Super Bowl in Miami or Tampa, it doesn’t tend to change hotel occupancy very much. You just tend to get football fans instead of golfers or tennis players . . . In New York [at that time of year] there probably is a greater likelihood the hotel occupancy rates would go up. You might get some incremental visitors, more revenue to hotels, a little more traffic through airports, a little more restaurant spending. But it’s not likely to be real large . . . Another thing to keep in mind is hotels are generally part of chains and chains don’t have their home offices in New York.”

On the folly of the numbers often thrown around in terms of economic impact (the NMS bid estimates $550 million of economic activity), which often downplays the fact hotels and restaurants would be filled with other events if not for the Super Bowl being in town:

“Generally speaking, the economists who have studied this have concluded that you have to move the decimal point one place to the left if you want to get an accurate reading of the economic impact. So if they’re saying $500 million it’s more realistic to say it’s going to be $50 million, and even that tends to be an optimistic projection. It’s not likely to have a major effect.”

More sarcastic stuff regarding the impact on New York in terms of promoting the area as a destination:

“New Yorkers tend to have inflated egos. Outside of New York, nobody has heard of New York, so this could be the best thing in the world for New York.”

So might the impact be greater in a lesser city such as Tampa?

“I don’t believe it for any city. It’s a silly notion that people hadn’t heard of Tampa before the Super Bowl was played there.”

A general comment on the economic impact:

“I think this is not great news for the New York City economy. The NFL likes to pretend that it is.”

On whether the Super Bowl is a better deal economically than, say, an Olympics because of the vastly lesser costs involved for the host city: “There are some marginal infrastructure costs and certainly some security costs. And some cities, when they’re contemplating whether to build a stadium they were told by Goodell or Tagliabue a new stadium would lead to a Super Bowl. But yes, the cost is small relative to something like the Olympics.”

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