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In Minnesota, all the stadiums are above average

2014 May 20
by Victor Matheson

Minneapolis was awarded the 2018 Super Bowl today beating out competing bids from Indianapolis and New Orleans. The conventional wisdom seems to be that this is a surprising move on the part of the NFL and that Minneapolis was “the supposed underdog city with the frigid temperatures in the winter.” The New Orleans Times-Picayune called it “a stunning upset” likening it to Joe Namath’s Jets back in Super Bowl III.

At least one economist, however, nailed Minneapolis‘ selection. Choosing Minneapolis as the odds-on favorite really wasn’t that hard when one looks at the history of the game. First of all, despite New Orleans’ claim that Minneapolis is “a relative neophyte in the big-event hosting game,” the Twin Cities are hardly amateurs at hosting big events. Minneapolis hosted the Super Bowl back in 1992. In fact, I ate lunch right next John Madden at Minneapolis’ finest Chinese restaurant, the Village Wok, while in grad school in the city at the time. MLB is sending the All-Star Game to Target Field this July, and the city has hosted the World Series and the NCAA Final Four on multiple occasions. St. Paul hosted the 2004 Republican National Convention, a much bigger organizational and security undertaking than a simple football game. And let’s also just remember that experience isn’t everything. New Orleans, despite hosting more Super Bowls than any other city, couldn’t even manage to keep the lights on during their last attempt at hosting.

More importantly, however, is the fact that the NFL wants to reward cities that build new stadiums, especially those that shower their franchises with lots of taxpayer subsidies. The NFL constantly dangles the carrot of a Super Bowl in front of otherwise reluctant taxpayers in order to receive public handouts. Put  in $498 million, like the citizens of Minnesota did, and the NFL will send the Super Bowl and its supposed $498 million in economic impact  your way. It’s almost like getting a stadium for free. Of course, the bribe only works if the NFL is actually seen coming through with the big game.

Indeed the NFL has come through. Of the 16 Super Bowls hosted between 2001 and 2016, over half were held at newly constructed stadiums hosting Super Bowls for the first time including games in Tampa, Glendale, AZ, Detroit, Indy, New York/New Jersey, Jacksonville, Santa Clara, CA, Arlington, TX, and Houston. And now add Minneapolis to list.

Minneapolis will be a great host, but if you are planning on going to the game in 2018, I recommend you bring a really good coat and that you keep warm with some hot and sour soup at the Village Wok.

4 Responses
  1. May 24, 2014

    My friend lives there and heard great things about the place but never got a chance to drop by. I should add this to my list of places I need to check out this year.

  2. WeineryRon permalink
    May 27, 2014

    Somehow I never heard about the Madden dining … Now coach Woog, that I remember …

  3. Andrew permalink
    June 3, 2014

    The cost on the taxpayers for the stadium build itself aside, can you break down how this is an actual benefit to the city of Minneapolis and taxpayers of Hennepin County & Minnesota?

    I look back on past super bowls and their host city not making up the cost of the spectacle. Jacksonville is a prime example. People aren’t going to be drawn to stay in Minneapolis in the dead of winter for a long weekend like they may in Dallas, Miami, Phoenix, San Diego, Etc, as walking around Minneapolis bundled up doesn’t have the same appeal as catching rays does.

    My bet (even as an optimist) is that the City loses millions of dollars that go unpaid by the NFL and their billion dollar industry. I lived in Minnesota until recently and saw the negative effect of hosting an NCAA Men’s Final Four in March. Nobody bothered going to the Championship game. Granted, that won’t happen for the Super Bowl, but the idea remains the same that cold weather will not impact the proceedings well. The All-Star game will be a different story since it is in the summer.

    Thoughts?

  4. Victor Matheson permalink
    June 3, 2014

    The scholarly evidence suggests a bump in personal income, taxable sales, and employment from the typical Super Bowl in the range of $30 to $120 million. A net increase of 50-100K room nights clearly brings something in to the economy. Whether the incremental costs of hosting exceeds these net gains is a somewhat unanswered question since audited, reliable hosting costs are difficult to come by.

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