The Super Bowl Could Cost San Francisco Taxpayers $4.8 Million

And the city isn't even hosting the actual game.
The Super Bowl is expected to be expensive for San Francisco's police and fire departments, as well as its emergency manageme
The Super Bowl is expected to be expensive for San Francisco's police and fire departments, as well as its emergency management department. The NFL isn't reimbursing the city for expense incurred as part of hosting the game's related events.

The city of San Francisco will spend an estimated $4.8 million to host nine days of pre-Super Bowl events next month, according to a recently released report from the city's budget analysts.

The analysis, first reported by the San Francisco Examiner, documents the types of costs associated with the event that are often unaccounted for when the NFL and Super Bowl boosters tout the benefits the game brings to its hosts.

San Francisco is not hosting the actual game, which will be played at Levi's Stadium in nearby Santa Clara, but it will host related events at the NFL's "Super Bowl City" celebration.

The primary costs come from additional expenses for city departments, including police ($1.5 million) and the fire department ($600,000). The city's transportation department will also incur an extra $2.3 million in costs, though it could recoup some of those costs through additional public transit fares.

Only the city's emergency management and fire departments have budgeted for the additional expenses, according to the report, though other departments have been asked to identify surpluses that could cover the remainder of the costs -- roughly $4.3 million.

The Super Bowl Host Committee, the private group that brought the game to the Bay Area, has agreed to cover just $104,000. Santa Clara was able to negotiate agreements with the Host Committee that require reimbursements for additional city services, but San Francisco has no written agreement in place with the committee, the analysis says.

The NFL makes a laundry list of demands of each Super Bowl host, but it will not cover any of San Francisco's costs, even though its annual revenue figure -- $9.2 billion in 2013 -- is larger than the city's $8.9 billion budget. As part of the original Super Bowl bid, the report states, San Francisco's fire, police and emergency departments "signed letters of assurance to not seek reimbursement from the NFL for providing additional public safety services in support of public events related to the Super Bowl."

The report recommends that the city seek an agreement similar to Santa Clara's. 

The analysis notes that Mayor Ed Lee's office "expects local tax revenues generated by Super Bowl 50 to offset the City’s General Fund expenditures for these events." A spokesperson for Lee told the Examiner that the report was a one-sided look that ignored the benefits the events will bring the city. 

While host committees and Super Bowl backers often tout those benefits, research has shown that mega-sporting events like the Super Bowl have little discernible impact on local economies, especially once additional costs for public services are counted.

The big game has been a loser for cities in the past. The mayor of Glendale, Arizona, which hosted Super Bowl XLIX a year ago, predicted before the game that the city would lose $1 million to $2 million on the game. In the end, a city-commissioned report found that the city may have received a small financial gain but more likely lost between $579,000 and $1.2 million hosting the Super Bowl.

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