Super Bowl Sunday is one of the greatestsportingeventsintheworldunmatchedgloballyforitsgreatness blah blah blah. This is what you would be reading today had my team, the San Francisco 49ers, won the NFC championship game, or semi-final as those of you who don’t speak American may want to refer to it, on January 22nd. Alas, we fell 3 points short in overtime, after exceeding the expectations and pundits’ predictions that had us pegged as a bottom feeder. I was, thus, thrust back to earth and the reality that the Super Bowl is an exercise in excess and greed featuring hideously overpaid athletes that only the most privileged of fat, lazy Americans can afford to attend. The truth, however, may lie somewhere in between. Until my fanrage and despair subsides, I’ll stick with the latter view.
A little background
Super Bowl XLVI is to be contested this Sunday, February 5th, between the New England Patriots and New York Giants in Indianapolis, Indiana. Other wise known for it’s famed Indy 500 motorsports-a-thon, it is generally regarded as a cesspool of shit by most sane people I know. The only decent thing it has given the world is my favourite author, Kurt Vonnegut. But having recently completed the $720 million Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis won the right to host a Super Bowl through a bidding process that is comparable to the Olympics or the World Cup. But was it money well spent?
The NFL generally touts the benefits of hosting a Super Bowl. They have published countless surveys to prove their point. Most economists agree that these papers are biased and flawed. Indianapolis is generally expected to take-in $150 million in income generated by the hordes of fans that will descend upon it, like Visigoths on Rome, with a hunger for nachos and strippers. The Super Bowl is dangled like a carrot to cities, most frequently before a vote on the public financing of a new stadium and Indianapolis was no different. In other words, if Indianapolis had not spent the $720 million on their new stadium, they would not have received the right to host the Super Bowl. And while there is no doubt that plenty of cash will be flying around the eateries and entertainment venues of the city center, most of that will be squirrelled away by shareholders in the corporations home city, not Indianapolis. And while the cost of a room will quadruple in price, it will not mean a quadrupilation of wages for the hotel staff, merely a quadrupilation of barbecue sauce stains on the carpets. Another famous example comes from last years Super Bowl, played in Dallas, Texas. Widespread reports of a stripper shortage forced local strip clubs to put a distress call, an SOS, to strippers all over the country. 10,000 strippers were needed to fill the demand. Many workers did indeed make the trip, but unfortunately for the local economy, took most of the money home with them.
- $121 million. The amount that Lucas Oil paid for the naming rights to the stadium, lasting 20 years. This went directly into the funding of the stadium.
- $25 million. The amount of money raised by Indianapolis’ bidding committee to prove to the NFL they were a viable host city.
- $18 million. The yearly salary of Tom Brady, the highest paid player to be participating in this year’s game. This does not include endorsements.
- $2,000. The minimum price for a ticket to Sunday’s game on the secondary ticket market. This is as of Friday evening and could easily double before the game begins.
- $900. The cost of a motel room on the highway near the airport, which usually goes for $47.
The Super Bowl is renowned for it’s advertising. Advertising firms compete with each other in an effort to create the most acclaimed 30 second spot. It is also the priciest advertising slot one can buy in the world. The price first topped one million dollars in 1995. It was met with amazement and outrage at the time. This year, the spots are selling for $3.5 million dollars. That’s right… $3,500,000! If the island nation of Tuvalu saved all its GDP for the year, it could afford to buy 5 minutes of advertising. There are expected to be over 150 million viewers in the United States alone and estimates range up to 1 billion viewers worldwide. That is a considerable audience to reach, and companies as diverse as Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet have no problem forking over the big bucks to reach their target audience; drunk males.
The real cost: Waistlines
Americans are expected to spend an estimated $11 billion dollars above and beyond normal expenditures on Super Bowl weekend. This is in merchandise, team color coordinated napkins and streamers, and most importantly, food. The Super Bowl is the 2nd largest eating day after Thanksgiving.
- 48 million Americans will eat take-away during the game.
- 71 million pounds of avocados will be eaten on top of 43 million pounds of tortilla chips.
- 1.23 billion liters of beer will be imbibed.
Finally, and most tragically, we come to the real, real cost…
(Cue melodramatic music…)
The Fowl Holocaust
- 100 million pounds of chicken wings will be eaten, leaving 1.5 billion greaser fingers to be licked by 150 million drunken souls.
All statistics gleaned from various financial websites that I can’t remember.
All sarcasm and disdain aimed at the football gods.
Fowl Holocaust, the phrase, has been borrowed from Count Bass D. He may have it back when the Super Bowl hype is over.