February 05, 2006
Congrats to the Steelers

I'm back from Portland, where a depression is now settling over the Seahawk-rooting city. There's no shame in losing to Bill Cowher's team. He's one of the good guys of coaching, and he deserves this one. Congrats to Cowher and the Steelers for their awesome run through the postseason.

I had the opportunity to read the Portland newspapers this morning, and and old bugaboo popped up.

Now, we understand that the Super Bowl is a private sports event run by a private league, and what we're actually seeing is an exercise in capitalism by owners rich and savvy enough to conduct this bidding game at the highest level.

So we're told to mind our own business, as if this isn't a public issue.

Except, it feels exactly like one when you consider that holding a Super Bowl is worth as much as $300 million to a local economy. And that local corporations and sponsors with a lot to gain have become especially interested in the process. So maybe it's no surprise that the host committees, and the league owners lurking behind them, are crossing ethical lines with bribes aimed at swaying secret-ballot votes.

The column is about the secretive process for deciding on a Super Bowl host city, but here we see again the mythology about how much those hosting dutines is worth. You would think that after forty of these things, we'd have some solid data, but if there's ever been a postgame study on, say, Houston's Super Bowl 38, I've never seen it. Why this is, I couldn't say. There's gotta be an economist or two who'd be interested in this sort of thing. Whatever number they pulled out of the ether for you, Detroit, I hope you achieved it. Not that we'll ever know for sure, I suppose.

Regular posting will resume tomorrow. My thanks to Ellen and Julia for their guest blogging. I've got some more travel in my future this year where it will be somewhere between inconvenient and impossible for me to blog, so I really appreciate being able to turn this space over to talented folks like them to keep things going. Thank you, Ellen and Julia!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 05, 2006 to Other sports | TrackBack

I know a few people in Pittsburgh (families of my cousin's spouses) and Staten Island (my landlord) who are happy about the Steelers.

On the other hand, my girlfriend (who I love dearly) has applied to study for her doctorate in psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and had never heard of the Steelers and had no idea how big football is in western Pennsylvania.

Posted by: William Hughes on February 5, 2006 10:05 PM

The economics have been done, but, for obvious reasons, the NFL refuses to recognize them. It's a philosophical difference. The NFL adds up all spending by its visitors for the event, and claims that number. Economists look at the difference in spending in that city vs. a normal week (mainly via sales tax data), and find a much, much smaller number. In other words: vistors who would have come to the city on other business or pleasure avoid it during a big event like the Super Bowl. Cities like Houston and Detroit get more value, because we're not tourist cities that would otherwise have a lot of visitors, but Miami and Tampa don't get much boost.

Posted by: Tory on February 6, 2006 8:41 AM