INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis stands to benefit in a bigger way from the Super Bowl than the Sunbelt cities that typically host the game because so little else happens here in February. Yet experts caution that football's biggest game doesn't net host cities the hundreds of millions of dollars that the NFL likes to quote.
That's because the seven- to 10-day Super Bowl run displaces many of the normal events and much of the spending that otherwise would occur during that time, while a big chunk of Super Bowl spending goes to out-of-state corporations and merchants that don't park their profits in the area.
"It's kind of like a circus coming to town . . . and then everybody packs up and leaves and takes their money with them," said Victor A. Matheson, an associate professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass.
He calculates the net benefits to host Super Bowl cities at a modest $30 million to $90 million after accounting for displaced business, "leakage" of profits to out-of-town interests and other offsetting factors.
Still, the 2012 Super Bowl in Indianapolis should administer a bigger economic jolt than it does to Sunbelt cities, because there are precious few other events to crowd it out in the Circle City in February, the coldest month of the year, when hotel bookings and travel are at a low, Matheson said.
Whether its true dollar value is hundreds of millions of dollars or a fraction of that, Tuesday's awarding of the Super Bowl to Indianapolis was welcome news to a metro area suffering from property tax shock, home price depreciation and record high gas prices.
"It's electrifying," said Brian Comes, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. "I think it will be comparable to the 500 and possibly bigger."
According to a Ball State University study, hosting the NFL's championship game and the multitude of corporate parties and other events surrounding it should be worth $365 million to Indianapolis, mostly in fresh spending by more than 75,000 expected out-of-town visitors, including legions of football fans, media throngs and celebrities looking for the limelight.
The economic impact study for the 2012 game, released last month by Ball State's Bureau of Business Research, is a gross measure that doesn't take into account the events that would be displaced by the Super Bowl or the spending that wouldn't be recycled back into the community.
Still, the Super Bowl's impact is equivalent to creating 5,000 jobs, said Michael J. Hicks, the bureau's director.
Area businesses already were calculating how to reap benefits from an event less than four years away.
"We'll look for ways our clients could gain more exposure" from the Super Bowl, said Clyde Lee, of Lee/Willis Communications.
He won't have to think hard to see the PR and business opportunities for one of his clients: Monarch Beverage, a beer and wine wholesaler.
"I think it's probably the biggest single event that's happened to our industry in the city," said Chuck Mack, operating partner of Buggs Temple restaurant on the Downtown Canal. "I see the benefit to my business starting right away."
At Shapiro's Delicatessen, two blocks south of Lucas Oil Stadium, where the game will be held, Brian Shapiro was visualizing an encore to the 1987 Pan American Games, which he called "the most successful time in Shapiro's history."
"I think it'll have a huge impact on us," the deli owner said of the Super Bowl. "It'll be a great bump for that time of year."
In the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, where this year's Super Bowl was held at the University of Phoenix Stadium, the economic bump was put at $500 million, according to a study by Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business.
The study showed the average visitor stayed nearly four nights and spent $617 a day on hotels, food, alcohol, transportation, and other expenses.
Organizers in Arizona exploited the opportunity to offer visitors day trips to the Grand Canyon and other scenic spots, which might be hard for Indianapolis to duplicate to profitable effect in the middle of winter in Indiana, said Ray Artigue, executive director of the MBA sports business program at Arizona State.
Still, he said, a Super Bowl offers any host city the chance to impress visiting business executives and others and encourage them to invest in the area or return for visits. "These are all things felt over time by a community that hosts a Super Bowl."
Barry Broome, president of Greater Phoenix Economic Council, said Indianapolis should brace for crushing demand on hotels, Downtown restaurants, limousine companies, and other services during the Super Bowl. "I've never been around an event that made that kind of a one-time, localized impact," he said.
Even several days before the Feb. 3 game, "a cab was a four-hour wait, if you got one" in the Phoenix area, he said. "Forget about getting one on game day. Limousine companies were shipping and hiring limos and drivers from California and Nevada. It was unbelievable."
"It just casts us in the national spotlight," said Mark Pratt, president of Denison Parking, a large operator of garages and parking lots in Indianapolis and other cities.
"It's the Super Bowl. It's probably one of the most exciting things we can do as a city. At times like these, politics and everything flies out the window and everybody just cooperates for the sake of the event."
Source: Indianapolis Star