Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Super Bowl Economics: Chump Change

The Tuesday Column
Super Bowl Economics: Chump Change for Cities  

Triple-chinned Babbitts worry about binge drinking around sports events. They should worry more about the con of binge events, the Super Bowl first among them. Its once-a-year gift to a chosen city is an annual Promised Land of profit and PR. And once a year the myths fly thicker than locusts over Egypt: Wife-beating will spike, water pressure will plummet, the nation’s theme parks will whistle in the wind, Janet Jackson will pop out a third breast. But no myth tops the host city boosters’ predictions of riches and recognition for everyone. The more audacious the predictions, the thicker the wool woven over people’s eyes.
The dirty secret of mega sports events isn’t that they’re not lucrative. They are. But with extreme selectivity. Like the Olympics or the World Cup, the economic impacts of those mega-events ultimately make no difference to residents of the unlucky host cities, who must either flee or sustain the carnage of hype and hassle. The events are quick ways to concentrate wealth in a few fortunate (and usually migratory) pockets. The last thing they do is diffuse wealth in the locale where they take place. Read the full column…