Super Bowl’s economic impact for Arizona: a hopeful boom

Downtown Phoenix, Central Corridor. Courtesy of
Downtown Phoenix, Central Corridor. Courtesy of

Similar to the World Cup and the Olympic games, the Super Bowl is often seen as a cash cow to the city that hosts this major sporting event.

Will Sunday’s Super Bowl in Glendale be a boom or a bust? There’s no easy answer to that question.

The event is estimated to bring $500 million in economic impact to Arizona. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to swarm the desert.

Calculating the Super Bowl’s economic impact is challenging, as the predicted numbers don’t always hit home to local businesses and realistic revenue. But economist Dr. Dennis Hoffman from Arizona State University’s W.P. School of Business states this number is not overblown but rather significant.

“These impact numbers come from careful studies from surveyed nights stayed, spending patterns, travel patterns and more. Many well-heeled and high-spending individuals are planning on attending the Super Bowl, so we will absolutely see their dollar in our economy,” Dennis said.

“Regardless of the number,” he continued, “there will be a big impact in the state because people will travel. Aside from the Super Bowl, our geography is vast, people will want to see what else Arizona has to offer.”

Another benefit Dennis considered is the wealthy attendees of the event, “There will be many corporate eyes around the Valley, bragging about the weather and the blue skies. In the midst of snowstorm Juno, there is no better PR for the state of Arizona.

“It would be to the advantage for greater Phoenix to use the opportunity to try to engender more money and more business ventures for our state,” Dennis said. “The average ticket-holder for the Super Bowl are high-spending, well-heeled corporate individuals who are guests. These people have big businesses.”

According to Dennis, the only foreseeable lose is that the local dollar will not show up in Glendale, but rather Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe.

“Glendale faces a big challenge to keep the dollar within the city,” Dennis said. “The two teams will be staying at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass and the Arizona Grande Resort and Spa, and fans want to go where the teams are training and lounging, and leading up to the game, they aren’t in Glendale.”

Dennis is not of the belief that these Super Bowl impacts are small or overblown. “Frankly, we work very hard to make sure these numbers are estimated properly and accurately. This event will bring in current dollars and the notoriety we will receive will extend beyond the economic dollars.”

The 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, where the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers, produced a $480 million net impact for the metro area, according to the University of New Orleans. What New Orleans was expected to reap wasn’t too far off from the actual produced benefits. The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation expected the 2013 Super Bowl to have a $432 million economic impact on the region.

City of Glendale Assistant City Manager Julie Frisoni, states that Glendale is ready for the Super Bowl, “We hosted the Super Bowl in 2008 and it was flawless. Our only hope is to do better this year.”

“There are 26 team members working on the day-to-day logistics that help make for a perfect event; teams ranging from public safety to communication to airport logistics to marketing. All our bases are covered.”

Public Affairs Manager for the City of Scottsdale, Mike Phillips, says events like the Super Bowl cut across many areas of municipal service delivery. “Scottsdale is a part of several regional planning teams focuses on specific areas, such as public safety.”

Frisoni states that partnerships with neighboring cities are crucial to make this event profitable. “To a visitor, they don’t know if they are in Glendale or Phoenix, we’re only separated by street lines,” said Frisoni.

When asked if the economic impact of $500 million is overblown or realistic, Frisoni said this number is extremely substantial.

“111 million people watched the Super Bowl last year. Events like these are very rare. Whatever the impact may be there is an impact. Cities will see a boom, regardless if hits the number on the dot, or not.

Large events will be taking place all over the Valley this weekend. Downtown Phoenix is preparing for a swarm of families, fans and visitors alike as they will be hosting the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a large block party expected to bring 1 million fans to the downtown area.

Super Bowl XLIX will be played at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale at 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 1.

Rosie de Queljoe is a reporter for Arizona Sonoran News, a service from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona. Contact her at

Click here for a Word version of this story and photos. 

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