Experts Dispute Minneapolis Super Bowl Economic Impact Numbers

Updated: 01/28/2014 7:32 AM By: Stephen Tellier

It's been 22 years since Minneapolis hosted a Super Bowl, and on Friday the city officially launched its bid to bring the big game back in 2018.

But is the Super Bowl buzz overblown?

Experts say Minneapolis has an excellent chance at hosting Super Bowl LII, largely because the NFL is expected to reward it for building the new Vikings stadium. And it will no doubt be a great event -- one many Minnesotans would love to host.

But how much money is a Super Bowl really worth? Likely far less than what Gov. Mark Dayton told Minnesotans.

"We'll have a chance to showcase Minnesota to the nation and to the world," Dayton said.

Dayton launched the formal bid on Monday, and latched onto some eye-popping economic impact numbers.

"We'll have close to half-a-billion dollars added to the Minnesota economy," Dayton said.

$500 million? That's basically the entire taxpayer portion of the new stadium pouring into the state with one football game.

That would be nice. But experts say, it's not true.

"It's not clear at all where they're coming up with these numbers," said Victor Matheson, an associate professor of economics at Holy Cross, and a prominent sports economist who got his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota.

"Don't count on getting a huge portion of that taxpayer subsidy back all in one big chunk," Matheson said.

The number cited by Minnesota officials is based in part on a study of the Super Bowl held in Indianapolis two years ago -- one paid for by that Super Bowl's host committee. The economic impact estimate was $324 million.

"Economists not associated with the NFL come up with numbers between $30 and $120 million. So again, this isn't money that you would just turn down, but it's also a fraction of the numbers that are being thrown around," Matheson said.

That fraction would still thrill many Minnesota businesses. This time of year, according to data provided by Meet Minneapolis and Smith Travel Research, about two out of five hotel rooms in the metro sit empty. A Super Bowl would fill those beds fast.

"If you're going to spend $500 million of taxpayer money building a new stadium, you want to put as many events as you can in that," Matheson said.

Minneapolis is also a finalist to host an NCAA Men's Final Four sometime between 2017 and 2020. We'll find out in November.

For the Super Bowl, Minneapolis is up against Indianapolis and New Orleans -- expect an announcement in May.