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Is There An Economic Benefit To Hosting The Super Bowl?


The Super Bowl is just four days away in New York.


Actually, New Jersey.

INSKEEP: The teams have arrived at their New York hotels.

MONTAGNE: In New Jersey.

INSKEEP: The game itself will be played at New York's MetLife Stadium.

MONTAGNE: In New Jersey.

INSKEEP: Local towns have been hoping for an economic boost from hosting the big game. But as NPR's Joel Rose reports, some officials in New Jersey complain that tourism dollars seem to be flowing instead to New York City.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Today, the NFL is taking over a 13-block stretch here around Times Square and turning it into a Super Bowl theme park. You can have your picture taken with the Vince Lombardi trophy or try kicking an extra point. But you have to do that here in Manhattan. You might not even know that the big game will be played on the other side of the Hudson River. And officials in New Jersey say that's exactly the problem.]

MAYOR JIM CASSELLA: I understand that the game is here because of New York City. What I didn't expect was the State of New Jersey to be ignored like it was.

ROSE: Jim Cassella is the mayor of East Rutherford, the town on the edge of the New Jersey meadowlands where MetLife Stadium is located. So when someone mistakenly refers to the Super Bowl being played in New York say, like famous sportscaster Terry Bradshaw, Cassella cringes.

CASSELLA: When they're talking about it, you don't know that New Jersey exists. And that's the part I worry about. When it comes to how it benefits the small businesses, the hotels, the restaurants, if you keep saying New York, people are going to think, well, that's where I have to be in New York City.

ROSE: Cassella says it doesn't help that the NFL's official program for the game shows the New York City Skyline, with a tiny sliver of New Jersey just barely visible in the background. But the Garden State will be on the hook for the added costs of security for the big game and if necessary, for snow removal. The NFL doesn't help with any of that.

Victor Matheson teaches economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

VICTOR MATHESON: Yeah, New Jersey is definitely getting a raw deal here. They're going to be incurring a lot expenses associated with hosting the game, in terms of security and transportation. But, you know, none of the high rollers who are coming in for the Super Bowl are going to be staying in New Jersey. They're all staying in Manhattan.

ROSE: The NFL has held promotional events in New Jersey too, including the annual circus of hype known as Media Day. Both teams are staying at hotels in Jersey City. And the game will be filling lots of other hotel rooms, too, at rates that are double or even triple what they would normally be in the middle of winter.

Jim Kirkos is president of the Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce.

JIM KIRKOS: Listen, I'm a Jersey guy. So does it hurt my ego once in a while when a sportscaster will diss New Jersey and just talk about New York? Sure. But at the end of the day, I know we are getting some of that impact. So I try to look past it as much as I can.

ROSE: The NFL claims the Super Bowl pumps somewhere between 500 and $600 million into the region's economy. But many economists, including Victor Matheson, dispute that.

MATHESON: These numbers are almost certainly wrong. So economists who have gone back and actually looked at cities that have hosted the Super Bowl, we come up with numbers somewhere in the vicinity of 30 to $120 million. Not something that New Jersey and New York should turn down, but it's a fraction of the number that's being claimed.

ROSE: Still, the NFL usually plays the game in a warm-weather city, where hotel rooms are already at a premium. So maybe this cold-weather Super Bowl will have a bigger economic impact than most.

JIM WARD: It's going to be a boost Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. I think it's going to be big for days leading up to it.

ROSE: Jim Ward is a manager and bartender at Blarney Station, a pub just a few miles from MetLife Stadium.

WARD: We're setting up a big tent outside and have a beer garden, lots of food, extra staff, live music - it's going to be the place to be.

ROSE: One of the people you may find enjoying pre-game festivities at Blarney Station is the Mayor of East Rutherford, Jim Cassella. As of now, he does not have a ticket to the game.

Joel Rose, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.