The news that Minneapolis will host the Super Bowl in 2018 is undoubtedly good for the local economy. Die-hard fans will flood the downtown streets and no doubt fill hotels, as well as search out local restaurants to sample our signature staple, the walleye.
But if you are a local business owner, don’t spend your projected windfall just yet. While cities do benefit financially from the Big Game, independent economists are nearly unanimous in saying that they don’t benefit as much as promised.
Back when Minnesota announced it would seek to host the event, I contacted several university economists, none of them paid by the teams or the Chamber of Commerce. They said to expect one-tenth to one-fourth of whatever the NFL projects.
“Strangely, whenever you start asking people for the actual economic report, you get missing-study syndrome,” Victor Matheson, an economics professor at College of the Holy Cross, told me.
“When economists not related to the NFL actually look back at the data, including Minneapolis in 1992, the impact of a Super Bowl is much smaller,” between $30 and $120 million, Matheson said. “You shouldn’t turn that down,” he added. “You’ve already decided to build the stadium, but you can’t use the number $500 million to justify the $500 million you just spent on a stadium.”
“ A Super Bowl is certainly a good thing for a city,” he said. “But not nearly as good as they pretend.”