Over the course of a week, downtown Minneapolis transformed. Nicollet Mall, which recently reopened in mid-November following a lengthy renovation, closed for a fan festival called Super Bowl Live. A concert stage overtook 8th Street; at Nicollet Mall, 9th Street cut down to two lanes, making room for a portable skiing overpass brought in from Wisconsin. According to the “Minnesota Post,” hotel occupancy soared, with 86% of properties offering no availabilities. Usually, hotel occupancy runs at about 55% during the wintertime.
Anyone could have looked around and guessed that the cost of hosting such an iconic event would be monumental. However, economists say that the Super Bowl Host Committee usually tends to estimate much higher than the final cost. The projected cost for Super Bowl LII is $338.4 million.
A significant portion of the cost went towards security. According to boston.com, this year’s Super Bowl had the largest deployment of federal resources yet. Minneapolis has a relatively small police department and needed to compensate with added personnel. This included officers from other cities, bomb-patrol dogs, helicopters and extra security cameras installed throughout the city.
Costs for things like security and public transit changes were largely funded by private fundraising through the local host committee, which raised about $53 million. But there is a large discrepancy between that number and what was projected. According to the “Star Tribune,” a long, pricey list of confidential requests were given to Minneapolis back in 2014 before the city was granted the event. These included 35,000 free parking spaces, presidential suites in high-end hotels, free billboards and even NFL-preferred ATMs at the stadium. The document was 153 pages long; the phrase “at no cost to the NFL” was mentioned almost 200 times.
How can the league demand so much from the communities that host the game? Victor Matheson, an economics professor who commented on the issue for the “Star Tribune,” said that it has something to do with the events uniqueness. According to Matheson, the has NFL a bit more leverage when making demands to bidding cities because the teams playing do not dictate the location. This is also unique to the NFL; the other three major sporting leagues do not do this.
The final cost of Super Bowl Weekend still hasn’t been revealed to the public, leaving locals with questions about exactly how much the city will have to pay.
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 9, 2018, Edition of The Echo.