By Barry Janoff
December 7, 2016: There is little doubt that hosting a Super Bowl has a tremendous impact on a city.
But just how much of an impact depends on a variety of factors, including location, transportation, weather, amenities and the two teams vying for the NFL's Vince Lombardi Trophy.
With Super Bowl LI scheduled for NRG Stadium on Feb. 5, 2017, the city of Houston and its surrounding regions will be in for not just an NFL takeover but a significant economic boost, with visitors and locals expected to spend upward of $200 million on hotels, food, transportation, entertainment and other items.
This would mark the fourth consecutive year that the host city would realize at least $200 million in Super Bowl-related spending, according to a new study from global financial firm BBVA Compass.
Taking into account operating costs, Super Bowl LI will have a net economic impact on Houston of $69 million, "which is a small fraction of the city's economic output but still a welcome boost to its bottom line and, most importantly, its image," according to BBVA Compass economists.
These numbers would be impacted if the hometown team, the Houston Texans, makes it to the NFL’s ultimate game. On one side, local interest would increase tremendously, with spending on souvenirs, memorabilia, food, electronics, parties and other events. Concurrently, fewer visitors who would have traveled with their own hometown team would visit, potentially affecting hotels and various modes of transportation used by out-of-towners.
In comparison, Super Bowl 50 this past February in Levi’s Stadium, home to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, saw $220 million in estimated spend in Santa Clara (where the stadium is located) and the broader San Francisco Bay Area, per BBVA Compass.
A separate study conducted by the Global Business Travel Assn. indicated that Super Bowl 50 produced an economic impact of $350 million, including marketing, sponsorship deals, Super Bowl-specific events and NFL operations.
And the National Retail Federation said that Super Bowl 50 — which received dramatic and extended pre-support from the league, media and marketers due to its historic significance — was a catalyst for more than $15,3 billion in consumer spending, about $1 billion more than Super Bowl XLIX in the University of Phoenix Stadium, home to the Arizona Cardinals, in February 2015.
In addition to Super Bowl related spend, where Houston will most benefit is from long-term national and global perception of the city as a "good place to do business."
"This mega sporting event can provide a good opportunity for the host city to accelerate its urban development and even rebrand its city image," according to the report, overseen by BBVA Compass chief economist Nathaniel Karp and a group of BBVA Compass economists. "The perception towards the city can be critical to its own prosperity, as it reflects the well-being of the residents.
"A city with a favorable image will keep attracting human and physical capital," according to the study.
NFL partners will both spend and motivate spending, including Pepsi as the sponsor of the Super Bowl Half Time Show starring Lady Gaga.
Among other economic developments, the selection of Houston in May 2013 as host city for Super Bowl LI "facilitated the construction of multiple new projects in the downtown area, including five new hotels due to open before the Super Bowl," per the BBVA Compass report.
Going back a bit farther, spend in Super Bowl host cities was $205 million for Super Bowl XLIX; $210 million for Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium (home for the New York Giants and Jets) in 2014; $190 million for Super Bowl XLVII in the New Orleans SuperDome in 2013; and $150 million for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis’s Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012.
Super Bowl LI will mark Houston’s third time hosting the Big Game.
Previous games were Super Bowl XXXVIII (Feb. 1, 2004), when the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers, 32-29, played in what was then called Reliant Stadium; and Super Bowl VIII (Jan. 13, 1974), when the Miami Dolphins defeated the Minnesota Vikings, 24-7, played in Rice Stadium.
"In terms of the intangibles, the biggest short-term upside is the opportunity to showcase a modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan city, which would dramatically alter the perception for many visitors that think of Houston as a hot, humid and heavily congested concrete jungle," according to the BBVA Compass economists. "The growing diversity of its population and businesses, Southern hospitality, and abundant choices for entertainment, restaurants and shopping will leave fans wanting overtime."
Since being selected to host Super Bowl LI, local and state politicians and businesses, lead by the Houston Super Bowl Host Committee, have also worked to build awareness and marketing alliances. Founding Committee sponsors include Accenture, Anheuser-Busch (Bud Light), Chevron, ConocoPhillips, GE, Hess, Sysco and stadium naming rights partner NRG.
The city in October began rolling out METRO Super Bowl LI-themed busses. And last month the Host Committee unveiled “Future Flight,” described as a “virtual reality and hands-on experience” anchored by an exhibit that will simulate a flight to Mars, which will be part of the NFL’s ten-day Super Bowl Live fan fest leading up to the game.
According to the NFL, the Houston Super Bowl Live footprint will be about twice the size of Super Bowl City in San Francisco, held in conjunction with Super Bowl 50, which attracted about 1.1 million visitors.
Upcoming Super Bowls
• Super Bowl LII Feb. 4, 2018 U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis
• Super Bowl LIII Feb. 3, 2019 Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta
• Super Bowl LIV Feb. 2, 2020 Hard Rock Stadium Miami
• Super Bowl LV Feb. 7, 2021 City of Champions Stadium Inglewood, Calif.