How much is a Super Bowl worth to a community? It depends on how you keep score.
By Stacie Kress Booker
Tampa Bay is counting on scoring big -- to the tune of $250 million -- when Super Bowl XXXV kicks off on Jan. 28. Next month, it will roll out the red carpet for the NFL, corporate bigwigs and the national media as it plays host to the country's biggest sporting event.
But is the payoff really that big? University of South Florida economics Professor Philip Porter says no. Porter, who attended his first Super Bowl 32 years ago in Miami as a peanut salesman, has studied at least a dozen Super Bowls and says he's never found a significant economic impact to a local economy.
"The NFL is telling economic impacts before they happen. They can't possibly know," says Porter. For this Super Bowl to have the $250-million impact the NFL has projected, Porter says, it would have to generate $150 million in direct spending. Taxable sales for January would have to reach $1.83 billion. Yet, according to calculations using historical data from the USF's Center for Economic Development Research, it's much more likely the area will see the usual $1.68 billion in taxable sales for the month.
The only interests likely to realize a real windfall, says Porter, are hotels. And since many aren't locally owned, the money isn't necessarily funneled back into the local economy. The Tampa Marriott Waterside, the Hyatt Westshore and the Wyndham Westshore -- three chains where NFL staff and players will be staying -- expect a 10% to 15% increase in room sales for January.
While direct economic benefits may not be widespread, some companies and the community put a high value on the exposure that the event brings. Raymond James Financial Services hopes to leverage the nearly $40 million it spent on the naming rights to the stadium as well as Super Bowl coverage. It's launching a national branding campaign to coincide with the game.
Tampa Bay Super Bowl XXXV Task Force Chairman Jack Wilson says it would be virtually impossible to put together an ad campaign that could match the opportunity the Super Bowl offers -- showing more than 800 million viewers worldwide and 100,000 visitors what Tampa is about as a place to entertain, do business and live.
But Porter is quick to add, "it's not advertisement; it's exposure, and exposure can be good or bad."
Meanwhile, local merchants say there are a few dollars to be made. Tampa merchant Chris Murnaghan is designing a commemorative Super Bowl XXXV ornament she'll sell at her shop, Something Special in Tampa, for $45 a piece. She's already receiving orders from corporate clients but declined to say how many. "I don't think I'm going to get rich on it," she says.
In the News
Bartow -- Tampa juice company Vitality Beverages is shutting down most of its juice processing operations here and laying off 150 workers. The layoffs are part of the company's plans to grow its food services and packaging businesses. It will continue to employ about 40 in this area. The plant was part of Vitality's $72-million Orange-co acquisition last year.
Ellenton -- Wheeling Corrugating Co., a division of West Virginia-based Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Corp., recently moved into the Palmetto Corporate Complex. The steel maker spent $2.7 million renovating its new space for production of corrugated steel for roofing and bridge decking. It plans to hire 25 employees.
Lee County -- Florida Gulf Coast University announced plans to build a 137-acre research and development park north of the campus close to I-75 and the Southwest Florida International Airport. The land is a gift from agribusiness Alico (Nasdaq-ALCO), which donated the 760 acres for the university campus as well as 215 acres for the FGCU Foundation. The 3-year-old university's goal is to create a hub for technology business along the Gulf Coast, serving Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties.
Plant City -- Utek Corp. (Nasdaq-UTOB) became the first company in the Tampa Bay area to go public this year, raising $6 million in its IPO on Oct. 26. The Plant City company buys technology and sells it to new companies for stock. The company's shares gained 3% during its first day of trading.
Sarasota -- Packaging machine manufacturer Hooper Engineering has a new owner, packaging distributor Harpak of Easton, Mass. Hooper Engineering, which employs 25, will remain in Sarasota and continue to operate under its own name. Harpak says it expects to be hiring next year.
Salient CyberTech's Canadian-based subsidiary, Gemini Learning Systems, inked two strategic marketing deals. The first is a licensing agreement with Rand Worldwide to deliver e-learning solutions to clients. The second is an alliance with TrainSeek.com, an online marketplace for training buyers, to market Gemini's industry customized interactive learning solutions.
St. Petersburg -- St. Petersburg Junior College and the University of South Florida are teaming up to go after state and federal funding. They're applying for $2.6 million to build classroom space at the Florida International Museum and another $6 million in federal funds for renovations needed to house rotating Smithsonian Institution exhibits. Displays currently occupy only a third of the museum's 220,000 square feet.
Tampa -- Workforce Florida awarded the Tampa Bay Partnership an $85,000 grant for a regional workforce study to be conducted by the Hudson Institute in Indianapolis and completed in February. Its focus: the challenges faced by the region's "working age" population, and job quality. Verizon Florida has contributed funds, and the Florida Bureau of Labor Market Information is assisting with the project.
University Community Hospital completed an expansion of its Surgical Services Unit, adding eight operating rooms and one cystoscopy room at its Fletcher campus. It has also announced plans for a $9.7-million expansion and renovation of its Women's Center.
Tampa Bay -- Rental rates for office space in Tampa Bay are on the rise. The region posted a 13.6% gain in the first half of the year, with Pinellas County leading the charge with a more than 10% increase. Gains in parts of Hillsborough were less than 5%. The average rental rate is $19.43 a square foot, up from $17.10 at the end of last year but still lower than major cities such as Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C., where rates run $25 or more a square foot.
Treasure Island -- Cleveland, Ohio-based Consolidated Management purchased the Bilmar Beach Resort for $12 million and is planning more than $1 million in renovations. The 172-suite landmark will get a facelift and a new oceanfront restaurant. Forbes Hamilton Management Co. of Kissimmee will operate the mid-priced, full-service hotel.
TAMPA -- A Boca Raton firm, TelePlace, will convert the former Citicorp Services call center in east Tampa into a high-tech facility for telecommunications and Internet companies. TelePlace bought the 187,000-sq.-ft. facility for $12 million and will spend an additional $30 million to $40 million upgrading the building's high-tech backbone.
TelePlace's business is two-pronged: It manages Internet systems, and it's also a high-tech landlord, leasing space to companies with high-tech needs. The conversion of the east Tampa facility will be completed by April. TelePlace will occupy about 50,000 square feet and will lease out the rest. Tenants include Florida Power & Light, Intermedia Communications and GTE. This is 18-month-old TelePlace's second Florida site. Miami was its first.