Kansas City Super Bowl? Not so fast, says UMR economist

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On February 16, 2006

Kansas City would be better off winning a Super Bowl than hosting one, according to an economist at the University of Missouri-Rolla. 

Dr. Michael Davis, an assistant professor of economics at UMR, is co-author of a study that suggests fans of winning teams in the National Football League are bigger spenders than fans of losing teams. But, Davis says, economic windfalls for cities that host the Super Bowl might not be as great as people think.         

“One thing people don’t take into account is, if person X wasn’t at the Super Bowl, there would be an auto show or conference in town,” Davis says. “There are only so many hotel rooms.”                                 

Pittsburgh likely benefitted from Super Bowl XL more than the host city Detroit, according to Davis’ research.        

That might be of interest to taxpayers in Kansas City, Mo., where proposed renovations to the Truman Sports Complex could pave the way for the city to host a future Super Bowl. The idea, which would soon have to be approved by voters, is to build a rolling roof over the complex, home to the Kansas City Royals and Kansas City Chiefs.         

Kansas City would have a much better chance of hosting the Super Bowl at the Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium if such a roof were constructed to keep out winter weather. The reported cost of a rolling roof, which would be funded largely with public money, is $200 million.        

“The economic benefit of bringing a Super Bowl to the city is not anywhere near the cost of building a roof,” Davis says. “Economists generally agree that new stadiums like the one in St. Louis and stadium improvements like those proposed in Kansas City do much more to benefit the owners of a team than they do to boost the overall economy of a metropolitan area in the long term.” 

So the most important thing a team can do for its city is win, according to Davis.

“We propose that happier people work harder and are more productive in cities that have a winning NFL franchise,” Davis says. “When the home team wins, fans have a greater sense of well-being and are more likely to spend. We think this is especially true for fans of NFL teams who are playing well around Christmas.”

And, if that’s true, look for people to wager more money at Kansas City’s riverboat casinos following a Chiefs win than they would after a loss.

Davis says his work so far only concerns correlations between winning and spending in NFL markets, but he’s about to start a new study on the possible impact of winning percentages on the economies of Major League Baseball cities. 

Increased revenues can help teams compete on the field and enhance fan experiences, but Davis says ownership groups often use leverage with fans to get help with revenue-based improvements like new luxury boxes. 

For instance, MLB owners don’t want the league to expand further into viable markets, Davis says, because then the owners couldn’t threatened to move to a new city every time local taxpayers don’t foot the bill for new stadiums or stadium improvements.

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On February 16, 2006. Posted in Research