EDITORIAL

When the city that hosts the Super Bowl will benefit to the tune of $350 – $400 million, you can bet there will be arguments about where the Super Bowl is to be held.

Roger Noll, a professor of economics at Stanford University, told The Mercury News that Florida isn’t as lucky to host the big game as other states might be. The reason why? Snowbirds.

Snowbirds are part-time Floridians who “nest” in second homes in Florida during the winter months, avoiding the unpleasant cold that occurs up north. Since the snowbirds are already here, it’s Noll’s conclusion that the Super Bowl benefits Florida less than it would a state or city where snowbirds aren’t roosting. “If the idea were to maximize social welfare derived from a Super Bowl,” that is.

There’s tourism, as well. Florida’s hotels are usually 92 percent full in February even without a Super Bowl being held within one of its cities. That’s higher than most other states in the union in February, and far higher than in cities like Minnesota or Detroit, where, according to Noll, “no sane person would go in February. The only way you could help Miami (in February) would be to hold the Super Bowl in August.”

Noll also wants to see more Super Bowl money in the hands of communities, and less in the hands of corporate hotels.

The NFL is no stranger to Noll’s arguments. It’s implemented an “emerging business” program which attempts to direct Super Bowl dollars to small businesses as well as businesses owned by minorities and women. The NFL says small businesses benefited to the tune of $10 million in Detroit last year, and this year’s amount will eclipse that number.

Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, made a distinction between snowbird spending and tourist spending. A family of four on vacation spends less than the usual Super Bowl attendee, for instance. Since there are enough hotels and services in Florida to support both a Super Bowl and snowbirds at the same time, there doesn’t seem to be any problem whatsoever.

Also, the point of the Super Bowl has nothing to do with social welfare. It has to do with football. Not everything can be, or should be, an effort to provide those who have less with more. People who have enough should be allowed to enjoy themselves once in a while without being irritated by economics professors at Stanford who apparently don’t understand economics very well.

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