Cost of Super Bowl celebrations outweighs the benefit

Super Bowl 50 will be held Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California, but it won’t be the city of Santa Clara that is paying for it, and two members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors introduced emergency legislation Tuesday in an attempt to ensure that San Francisco doesn’t have to either.

San Francisco – the namesake of the 49ers football team, though no longer its home – is playing host to an enormous pre-Super-Bowl complex smack dab in the middle of downtown, and its repercussions will leave residents paying for it with more than just money.

San Francisco’s independent economic analyst released a controller’s report Jan. 15 that detailed the extent of the city’s financial cost, and what San Francisco is paying out of pocket is ludicrous. The NFL should have to reimburse the city of San Francisco for Super-Bowl-related expenses.

Nearly $4.4 million of what the city is spending on Super Bowl events has yet to be funded, according to the report. The NFL has only agreed to reimburse the city for a little more than $100,000.

San Francisco is on the hook for close to $5 million for Super-Bowl-related events, according to the report – all for a team that bailed 45 miles south when San Francisco taxpayers didn’t want to foot the billion-dollar bill for a new stadium.

Santa Clara, meanwhile, has contracted with the NFL to have all of their expenses reimbursed, the report said. It’s important to note that Santa Clara’s total expenses for the Super Bowl are more than $1 million less than San Francisco’s.

It’s asinine that the NFL, an organization with annual revenue greater than San Francisco’s total annual budget, hasn’t agreed to reimburse the city whose name is being used to draw visitors to the Super Bowl. The San Francisco 49ers football team has a storied legacy. The Santa Clara 49ers do not, and there’s a reason why they haven’t changed their name.

Super Bowl 50 is likely to be the largest and most extravagant in NFL history. It’s the event’s half-century anniversary, and the NFL’s host committee, which functions as a middleman between the league and the local government, has raised $50 million specifically for Super Bowl 50 events, the controller’s report stated.

In addition to the financial burden on the city, it’s estimated that more than 1 million visitors will flock to the Super Bowl City complex downtown, closing a significant portion of southbound Embarcadero from Jan. 30 through Feb. 12. Other streets that will be closed for part or all of that same time include Steuart, Main, Spear and Howard streets, according to NBC.

Commuters and Muni riders will have to drastically adjust their schedules during this two-week closure, and traffic in San Francisco as well as congestion on public transportation will surely skyrocket despite the return of underground night service on Muni.

Although Bay Area football fans might rejoice at the presence of a Super Bowl wonderland, the overall outcome for San Francisco residents is unequivocally negative. Their city is paying millions of dollars out of pocket for more than a million people to congest the heart of their downtown, and services could be cut as a result. 

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