The Pats won Super Bowl XLIV, but what about the host region?

By Spendgo Founder & CEO, Ivan Matkovic

With three major events taking place in a two week period – the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, and the Phoenix Open – we wanted to see for ourselves if there was any quantifiable benefit to the host region.

Super Bowl Economics

A common debate between the NFL and the nation’s sports economists is the huge disparity (we’re talking millions) in how the Super Bowl is a boon to the host city. Economists argue the benefits are nil — Professor Philip Porter from the University of South Florida stated, “Super Bowl attendees simply don’t buy much that the local economy sells.” Perhaps they have a point – on the day of the Big Game, Spendgo found there was a 15% decrease in store traffic and sales for local businesses compared to a normal Sunday. That being said, if you owned a grocery store, bar, or restaurant catering for a Super Bowl party, you most likely had one of your best days of the year. Unfortunately, the latter is true across the country regardless of host-status, meaning unless your business is located between the stadium and parking lot, there’s a good chance you would have seen similar economic benefits.

A Pro Bowl Silver Lining?

This year, things were a little different with the NFL moving the Pro Bowl to the same city as the Super Bowl. In the week leading up to the Pro Bowl, held on January 25th, there was an 18% increase in store sales in the greater Phoenix area. This surge wasn’t driven by the influx of visitors, rather it was led by local residents and Spendgo loyalty members who, on the day of the Pro Bowl, spent 31% more than a typical Sunday. This stands to reason that the way to invigorate the regional economy is with an event that brings the locals out and doesn’t simply rely on attracting new visitors.

So then what made the Pro Bowl unique? Is it the fact that people were not as glued to their TVs as they were for the Super Bowl? Or were the events and laid back atmosphere surrounding the Pro Bowl creating a driving economic benefit for the host region? All I know for sure is the Super Bowl is coming to the Bay Area next year. Go Niners!