It's Super Bowl LV weekend. A very subdued one, in keeping with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Football League and CBS Sports are doing what they can to gin up excitement. And for the millions of us who'll watch on TV, that's probably enough. Heck, the match-up of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady is probably enough.
But cities across the country, even where restaurants and bars are opened at reduced capacity to combat coronavirus spread, aren't as upbeat.
Every year, Super Bowl Sunday provides a major economic boost, with fans crowding establishments to eat, drink and cheer on their teams. Not so much in 2021.
Early reports are that folks are heeding the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who's recommended that they stay home and watch the game within their COVID-safe pods.
Not really a fiscal boost: Those businesses naturally are bemoaning the loss of what they had hoped would be a big weekend that could make up some of the pandemic financial losses they've suffered.
Truth be told, though, even in what we considered normal years, the Super Bowl hype about the vast economic benefits of the game is, well, over-hyped.
A few years ago, I posted about how when it comes to accommodating the Super Bowl, the NFL wins and the host cities lose.
That's still the case, according to economists and sports journalists. That's why this Super Bowl weekend's Saturday Shout Out goes to them. Their analyses are below.
The NFL and host committees claim that the Super Bowl brings between $300 to $500 million to host cities. However, economist Victor Matheson, editor of the Journal of Sports Economics, estimates the big game brings in much less, between $30 to $130 million.
The higher estimates, Matheson says, encourage cities to continue to provide the NFL with tax subsidies to host the event and build new stadiums.
Here's a short video from Business Insider featuring me explaining why the Super Bowl isn't as big an economic impact as one might expect. @businessinsider— Victor Matheson (@VictorMatheson_) February 5, 2021
(And I'm even showcasing the same bold shirt/tie combination as in my twitter profile pic!)https://t.co/KE0FRkTot9
Noah Pransky, political editor at NBCLX, agrees. No, he says, the Super Bowl doesn't really make it rain hundreds of millions of dollars of profits on host cities.
In his video report, Pransky calls "BS on the NFL reps and politicians who mislead you about the economic impact of America's signature sporting event."
Michael D. Farren, a Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, writes in The Hill about how our taxes subsidize the Super Bowl and how that might change. Thanks to John Mozena of the Center for Economic Accountability for the tweet.
Great stuff as always from @MichaelDFarren: Pro sports team owners have proven they will take every opportunity to grab your tax dollars - including redirecting COVID-19 relief funds into Super Bowl stadium upgrades - until we make them stop for good. https://t.co/2rZEUc9LpY— John Mozena (@johnmoz) February 5, 2021
Football fun but at what cost: I hope I didn't cast a tax pall on your enjoyment of Super Bowl LV. I, too, am a sports fan and love U.S. professional football despite the recent awful efforts of my life-long team, the Dallas Cowboys.
The Super Bowl is a fun event, even if the games sometimes are meh. And in these persistent trying times, it's definitely something millions of us are looking forward to watching while, of course, hoping that all involved stay safe and COVID-free.
So enjoy. And Go Chiefs and fellow Texas Tech alum Patrick Mahomes.
But after the celebrations (or tears), we taxpayers and those we elect at all government levels need to look at the continued subsidization of billionaire professional sports team owners and the leagues that often (always?) seem to focus more on money than the players or fans.
You also might find these items of interest:
- NFL surrenders its tax-exempt status
- St. Louis says no added taxes for new NFL Rams stadium
- It's Super Bowl, and prop bet, time! Don't forget the taxes