If five years seems like a long runway to get up to speed, this is, after all, the Super Bowl.
It was more than two years ago, in May 2018, that the NFL announced that Glendale’s State Farm Stadium would host Super Bowl LVII when the big game arrives in February 2023.
It will also be the first time the West Valley has hosted a Super Bowl since 2015, when the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in Glendale, in what remains the most watched U.S. television broadcast ever with 114.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
Glendale knows that preparing for another round, which is still 2.5 years away, is worth all the lead time.
“We were still working about 10 minutes before kickoff last time,” Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee chairman David Rousseau told Independent Newsmedia this month.
The 2023 game will be the third in a 15-year span at State Farm Stadium, which hosted its first Super Bowl in 2008.
It was widely reported the 2015 game delivered a positive economic impact to Arizona of $720 million, the highest for any Super Bowl on record and the largest for any special event in the state.
The economic numbers were different for Glendale itself, however.
A 2015 city analysis shows Glendale likely lost between about $1.25 million and $579,000 hosting Super Bowl XLIX, incurring costs for public safety and transportation, among other expenditures.
“It’s too early for us to comment about the Super Bowl or make any economic impact predictions about Super Bowl LVII in Glendale in 2023,” Glendale city manager Kevin Phelps said.
“We can tell you that when the announcement came in May 2018, preparations for Super Bowl LVII started right after the bid was successful and Arizona was awarded this prestigious game. Work began on securing hotel rooms and venues in advance to make sure visitors have places to stay and that there would be places to hold various parties and events. Work also began to help garner statewide support for all the activities and events surrounding the Super Bowl.”
Some upsides don’t appear in initial reports, including city branding and future tourism, as well as considering the broader financial impact for the state as a whole on such a big stage.
State Farm Stadium also hosted the second-ever College Football Playoff national championship game in January 2015, and the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in April 2017. Four major events --- Super Bowl XLIX, 2015 Pro Bowl, CFP Championship and Final Four --- poured $1.3 billion into the Valley’s economy, according to a study completed by the Seidman Research Institute, W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
“Overall, Glendale is excited to be joining our partners in hosting Super Bowl LVII in 2023,” Mr. Phelps continued. “The Super Bowl brings fans and visitors in from all over the world who all contribute to Arizona’s economy. Events like the Super Bowl are critical to our booming tourism industry in Arizona, which supports over 180,000 industry jobs and nearly $3 billion in annual tax revenue to the state.”
By the 2023 event, the city expects at least five more hotels near the stadium within the Westgate Entertainment District. Visitors also will find expanded parking and walkability. The city has already added more than 4,000 parking spaces across the street from the stadium.
“Our experience the last time was we had an incredible reception from the business community,” Mr. Rousseau said. “They knew we were coming and yet they still took the meetings and were generous in their corporate support, realizing that if you’ve located your business here and your employees are here and you have an investment and this being a world-class community in Arizona ... and so the business community is incredibly helpful and performed their role, which is critical to our success.”
Long-term planning in advance can prove critical in the event of unexpected changes, as the city of Tampa Bay and the state of Florida have learned. Tampa is still scheduled to host Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021, as the coronavirus pandemic still affects every aspect of daily life.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller told the Tampa Bay 55 podcast in May --- some 277 days out from the Super Bowl --- that all agencies are “totally dialed in” to adapt to the fluid situation, including an emergency policy group that was originally put together to brace for hurricanes, not a pandemic.
“If this pandemic continues, and there are some medical experts who think we will have a spike again, there will probably be a discussion as we get closer to the Super Bowl. …277 days seems like a long ways off; it’s not,” Mr. Miller said. “During the summer, July/August, we will start seeing where we are. If the pandemic is still in the state it is in; if not, we’ll start talking about the Super Bowl and getting ourselves ready to work with the NFL to figure out how to get this thing done.”
When the NFL unanimously selected Glendale for the game back in 2018, Mr. Rousseau estimated that the economic impact to Arizona’s local economy for the 2023 event could not only exceed the $720 million from 2015 but could reach as high as $1 billion when accounting for visitor spending and its ripple effects.
While working behind the scenes for the past couple years to prepare, Glendale’s more public efforts will “start in earnest in 2021,” he says.
“Between the Cardinals organization and our municipal partners and the business community, there is that track record,” Mr. Rousseau said. “There’s always some twist around the NFL where a market will add something and then that becomes an expectation into the delivery of the Super Bowl. But definitely it’s down to a science (in Arizona). I think the only thing that’s in doubt is which teams are going to participate.”