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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Super Bowl spread is feast for Arizona

    Despite all the odds, the Arizona Cardinals finally found a way to go to the Super Bowl: bring it to Arizona.

    Kurt Warner, Edgerrin James and the rest of the Cardinals, unfortunately, will not be donning their uniforms, but witnessing from the sidelines the fruition of a five-year administrative play to bring the Super Bowl to Arizona.

    This Sunday, Super Bowl XLII kicks off at 4:20 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time) at the new University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Football fans in Arizona can take pride, not in the Cardinals 8-8 record, but in watching the New England Patriots and New York Giants crash helmets on our own turf. But we must not overlook the enormous costs Arizona lawmakers undertook to bring this gala to our state. Super Bowl XLII is a touchdown for Arizona businesses that says as much about us as fans as it does about the future of the Arizona economy.

    The new stadium in Phoenix is an engineering masterpiece, and the bill certainly reflects it. Stadium construction cost nearly $455 million, with $312 million coming directly from Maricopa County taxpayers. To finance the operation, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority issued $250 million in revenue bonds, meaning payment on the bonds will come from stadium revenue rather than from taxpayers.

    Due to the enormous investment required before breaking ground, gargantuan public complexes can be a risky investment. In smaller communities, the infrastructure development needed to support mega events, like expanded transportation systems and hotel facilities, can crowd out local businesses while crippling the economy because of unsustainable demand. University of Phoenix Stadium, however, reflects sound planning – financing the operation with its own revenue rather than by levying taxes on landowners or consumers.

    The stadium will likely prove a sustainable boom to local businesses because of its unique design and the growing population of the Phoenix suburb. The field can be removed from the stadium on an 18.9 million pound tray, turning the facility into a convention center or any variety of venue. Since opening last year, the stadium has already hosted two national bowl games, an international soccer match and 89 other events.

    The Super Bowl itself will contribute to the local economy, although not as much as most officials would make you think. Mike Kennedy, chairman of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, pinned the expected impact of the Super Bowl between $300 and $400 million. But these studies, according to Patrick James Rishe, an economist at Webster University in St. Louis, overstate the impact. It’s really closer to $100 million, Rishe says, if you differentiate between spending from local residents and spending from out-of-towners. Only spending that would not have normally occurred, in addition to increased jobs, should be used in calculating the true impact, in addition to subtracting the lost spending due to congestion. The Super Bowl, however, also causes enormous jumps in another arena: gambling. The Super Bowl produces bets on just about anything you can imagine: whether or not Britney Spears will bring her kids to the game (50-1 odds), whether or not Tom Petty will smoke a joint during halftime (remarkably, 25-1 odds) and even how long Jordin Sparks will take to sing the national anthem. Betting markets offer thousands of options for each Super Bowl.

    Gambling is outlawed in Arizona, with the state lottery and tribal land casinos receiving special exceptions. But the ease and rapacity with which Americans find gambling opportunities online provides a serious challenge to the notion of moral oversight by the state.

    Americans’ fascination with entertainment, gambling and the Super Bowl reveals the star-crazed celebrity culture we live in. Tuning into the Super Bowl means tuning into to watch a pure expression of America’s pop culture. Hollywood celebrities, glitzy and racy advertising, some of the best athletes in the world: the hallmarks of all that has made America famous. We’re not just tuning in to watch football: We’re tuning to remind ourselves of all that has made America the cultural capital of the world.

    The draw of the Super Bowl undoubtedly differs from viewer to viewer. For some, it’s an opportunity to grill a few dogs, ice a few brewskis and spend time with best friends. For sports fans, the Super Bowl offers one of the most anticipated sports events of the year. For others, it is simply a time for family. Regardless of the appeal, the game is a time to spend together. This gathering and the diversity that surrounds it is what makes the event truly American – but this year it has the added bonus of making Arizona millions of dollars.

    Matt Rolland is a junior majoring in economics and international studies. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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