How about this year’s Super Bowl, huh?

You may know that the final score in this nail-biter was 28 points for the Patriots to 24 for the Seahawks. Let me add: minus 2 million for the city of Glendale.

Two million dollars, that is. That’s the amount that Mayor Jerry Weiers estimates that Glendale, Arizona lost by having the “honor” of hosting this year’s Super Bowl.

Lost? Isn’t this the sports world’s spectacular a magic money machine?

That’s what the NFL’s super slick billionaire owners say as they hustle their Big Game from city to city, claiming that the lucky host will gain $500 million in added hotel rentals, sales taxes, and other revenues.

Independent analysts, however, show that host cities actually get far less than super returns for this honor, ranging from about $200 million to as low as $30 million.

Super Bowl, Glendale, AZ

Joe Parks/Flickr

Much of that money just replaces revenue from regular tourists. And in Glendale’s case, hordes of fans coming to the game chose to stay, eat, and party in Phoenix. Their money went to that destination instead.

And don’t forget to subtract a city’s added costs, such as thousands of police overtime hours, security for VIPs, street closings, and extra cleanup crews.

And while Glendale did have its moment in the global TV spotlight, Mayor Weiers isn’t exactly bullish on any real benefit coming from that. “In the long run,” he says, “down the road, certainly we might break even on this.”

Meanwhile, the people of Glendale are still paying a heavy price for earlier failed gambles on big time sports. To stave off bankruptcy, 25 percent of city workers were terminated, street maintenance was cut, libraries and swimming pools reduced their hours, and taxes were raised.

So, look out San Francisco, Houston, Minneapolis, and other cities next in line to host Super Bowls.

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Jim Hightower

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower

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