If all goes right on the football field, when Super Bowl LVI kicks off in Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium on Feb. 13, 2022, then either the Los Angeles Rams or Chargers—or both!—could be in pads on their home turf. With the two teams playing well, the opportunity exists for the city to claim its first Lombardi Trophy since the L.A. Raiders captured the championship in 1984.
If things go well off the field, the impact could be even bigger and longer-lasting.
According to a new report, the NFL’s title game could generate up to $477 million in local spending, with tourist and corporate dollars going to everything from hotel rooms to parties to restaurants to treks in taxis and rideshare services.
Even if the game doesn’t hit the financial end zone, there could still be a sizable score for the region: the low end of spending in the report, authored by the firm Micronomics Economic Research and Consulting, is $234 million.
“We’re coming out of an 18-month pandemic where we need to show the world that L.A. is back open for business, that it’s safe for business, and everything that L.A. has to offer,” said Kathryn Schloessman, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission, which helps bring big events to the region, and is a partner in the Super Bowl Host Committee. “We need to keep our hospitality, our travel and tourism business going. That’s very important. It creates jobs and tax dollars.”
It has been 29 years since the Super Bowl was last held in Los Angeles, a gap propelled by the NFL bizarrely not having a team here for two decades. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who moved his franchise back to the city from St. Louis, built the $5 billion stadium on land that previously held the Hollywood Park race track. The league in 2016 awarded the Super Bowl to Los Angeles.
The 61-page Micronomics report was based on economic modeling and criteria including the count of out-of-town visitors at Super Bowls in 2017-2019. Findings include the Los Angeles game seeing:
- Total out-of-town visitors: 100,000-150,000.
- Room nights booked (counting hotels and homeshare services): 150,000-225,000.
- Jobs created: 2,200-4,700.
- Direct spending in Los Angeles County: $128 million-$258 million.
- Overall impact, including “indirect” spending: $234 million-$477 million.
- Total tax revenue generated in L.A. County: $12 million-$22.5 million.
The wide range is meant to account for a level of uncertainty, including the potential for unforeseen ramifications from the COVID-19 pandemic. Although hotel room nights are expected to have a relatively tight average—from $314-$349 per night—much of the variance depends on how many people ultimately come from afar and what they spend while here; the low-end estimate of 100,000 visitors shelling out an average of $200 a day means far less for local coffers than the top-shelf prediction of 150,000 people dropping an average of $300 a day (not counting hotel spending).
Wherever the number ultimately lands, the game itself is only part of the money machine. The two weeks leading up to Super Bowl LVI will be replete with parties and activities including the fan-oriented “Super Bowl Experience” in downtown. Although SoFi Stadium can hold up to 100,000 people, huge crowds fly in just to network and do business.
“There will be thousands of people coming who are not going to the game, who come for the events and the parties and leave Sunday morning,” Schloessman said.
The NFL is taking steps to ensure that the economic windfall is spread far and wide, with opportunities for small and diverse entities. The league’s Legacy Program highlights and awards grants (of $10,000-$50,000) to 56 nonprofits and community organizations in the region, with recipients including gang intervention program Homeboy Industries and the pedestrian-oriented Los Angeles Walks. There’s also a Business Connect initiative, which seeks to direct Super Bowl-affiliated spending and contracts to 225 businesses that are own by minorities, women, LGTBQ and veterans. These include event-production suppliers.
It is worth noting that some question the idea that Super Bowls generate huge windfalls for the host city, or at least posit that the economic impact is overstated. They point to factors such as spending that ultimately doesn’t wind up in the city if, for example, hotels are corporate-owned, or the idea that locals dropping money on Super Bowl events would have directed that cash elsewhere if there were no game.
Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson has long taken issue with the rosy financial projections. In a 2010 paper he wrote, “While the league and sports boosters claim that the game brings up to a $500 million economic impact to host cities, a review of the literature suggests that the true economic impact is a fraction of that amount.”
While pinning down the precise financial impact of Los Angeles’ first Super Bowl in almost three decades may prove difficult, there is likely to be one ironic upside: Super Bowl LV, held in Tampa, Florida, took place at the height of the winter surge of the coronavirus, and many of the parties and other associated happenings were curtailed. This included gatherings hosted by or featuring the NFL’s deep-pocketed partners
Some of that spending is likely to be rolled over to Los Angeles, said Schloessman.
“We’ve been saying we’re very lucky to enjoy the benefits now and through the next several months of what they call ‘the revenge spend,’ which is everybody coming out of COVID who didn’t spend money last year,” said Schloessman. “They want to get out and go to activities.”
There’s another potential long-term benefit—the NFL tends to favor warm-weather regions for its championship, and often goes back to the same cities time and again. Miami has hosted the game 11 times, and it has been in New Orleans on 10 occasions. Given Los Angeles’ climate, tourist options and history—Super Bowl I took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1967—this could be the first of a new string of Super Sundays.