Economic Development

Santa Clara Weighing Benefits of Hosting a Super Bowl

Local officials began weighing whether the city can still make money from a Super Bowl after stomaching a new list of financial demands from the NFL.
by | January 11, 2013
Electrical workers dig at the site of the new San Francisco 49ers football stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., which is scheduled to be ready for the 2014 NFL season. (Photo: AP/Paul Sakuma)

Mike Rosenberg

The big economic boon from a Silicon Valley Super Bowl might not be as super as once thought.

Santa Clara officials this week began weighing whether the city can still make money from a Super Bowl and related events after stomaching a new list of financial demands from the NFL -- including giving up huge chunks of tax revenue. The San Francisco 49ers' new Silicon Valley stadium is a finalist to host either the 50th or 51st Super Bowl in 2016 or 2017.

Before local leaders can submit a bid in May to host the big game, the NFL is requiring the Santa Clara City Council to formally adopt a resolution of support for the Super Bowl -- and then put its money where its mouth is.

"We have to give up something financially," City Attorney Ren Nosky said Thursday. "They have a big entourage of people; they put on a lot of events, they're going to fill up a lot of hotels."

The exact terms of the deal are still being discussed in closed session, beginning with a meeting held Tuesday, and could be finalized before the end of the month. City officials said the NFL's offer also applies to the other finalist cities seeking to host the Super Bowls: Miami and Houston.

Essentially, the NFL wants to lease the $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium and the surrounding area -- possibly including the Santa Clara Convention Center, a nearby soccer park and parking lots -- for Super Bowl week at a much cheaper rate than normal, Nosky said. The league also wants other concessions, including possible tax breaks or a portion of the tax revenues received from hotels or other venues during the events.

"The NFL being the NFL, they obviously have the wherewithal to try to impose certain concessions from the host cities," Nosky said of the $9 billion-a-year league.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Thursday that the league also requires host cities to forego sales tax charges on Super Bowl game tickets, which are typically very pricey. Other host cities have exempted the NFL and its employees from taxes on visits and sales during the Super Bowl.

"The Super Bowl brings significant economic (activity) to a host community, estimated to be several hundred million dollars," Aiello said.

So exactly how much would Santa Clara benefit? That still remains to be seen as San Francisco, acting as the official host city, would get most of the events leading up to the game.

Santa Clara's challenge is to determine whether it can still make money from the Super Bowl even after giving concessions to the NFL. Nosky said the city is looking at the experiences of similar suburbs that have hosted the Super Bowl in the shadow of big cities -- such as Glendale, Ariz. (home of the Arizona Cardinals) East Rutherford, N.J. (New York Giants and Jets) and Arlington, Texas (Dallas Cowboys).

The Bay Area is competing with South Florida, home of the Miami Dolphins, for Super Bowl L in 2016. The loser will battle Houston, home of the Texans, for Super Bowl LI in 2017. The NFL owners are set to select the winners at their May 21 meeting.

©2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

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