NFL gives three Super Bowls to cities with new stadiums, implies, “Keep ’em coming”

The NFL awarded the 2019, 2020, and 2021 Super Bowls to Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles yesterday, continuing its policy of using the big game as a reward to cities and teams with new or significantly renovated stadiums. Or as Rams owner Stan Kroenke said following the decision, “I think they are telling the communities and the owners who stick their necks out that it’s worthwhile.”

The most important target of the announcement, then, isn’t the three cities that will now get the questionable benefit of hosting the NFL’s annual week-long road show, but those that are being wooed with that dubious carrot. Right now most of the reporting is on how New Orleans and Tampa Bay were snubbed because their stadiums aren’t as shiny as the cities that got the nod, but it’ll be interesting to see how this plays into future coverage of stadium campaigns — already, San Diego Union Tribune chief Chargers stadium cheerleader Kevin Acee has written that the possibility of getting a Super Bowl shouldn’t be the reason to vote for a new stadium, but really he means that you should vote for a new stadium regardless, so all remains right with the world.

Interestingly, there’s no reporting yet that I can see out of Las Vegas on the Super Bowl decision, but that may be because they’re too busy covering yesterday’s conflicting comments on a potential Oakland Raiders move from owner Mark Davis (“This is the real deal. If Las Vegas can come through, we’re going to be there”) and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (“It’s very premature at this point. Until we have more information, it’s pure speculation”). This could be just everyone playing their role — in terms of using Vegas as leverage in hopes of drumming up stadium subsidies from Oakland, Davis is bad cop, Goodell is good cop — or it could be a sign of deeper rifts among league owners over whether Davis should get to bolt from a bigger market to a smaller one in exchange for a lucrative (to him) stadium deal, and on what terms. We won’t know for sure until the next ESPN postmortem, I expect.

38 comments on “NFL gives three Super Bowls to cities with new stadiums, implies, “Keep ’em coming”

  1. Hi Neil,
    So does any entity beside the NFL make money on a super bowl game? Does the resident team benefit in any way beyond the shared revenues to all 32 teams?

    • The hosting team gets a disproportionate share of Super Bowl tickets, which it can sell, use as an enticement to season ticket buyers, or both:

      • The link you provided states
        “The NFL retains 25 percent of Super Bowl tickets to sell to media members, sponsors and others. The San Francisco 49ers, as hosts of this year’s game, get 5 percent of the tickets, and the remaining NFL teams each get 1.2 percent.”

        So it looks like the hosting team gets a benefit over and above all the other teams of 3.8% of the tickets – somewhere in the 3,000 range.

      • At an average face value of $1300, that’s worth about $4 million to a team. Not a fortune, but also not nothing. Plus it can help drive season ticket sales as well.

    • The host city/team does not get one red cent from the NFL for using their stadium for the Super Bowl. The benefit is the revenue the money will take into the city with all the visitors staying at hotels, eating at the restaurants, car rentals, etc.

      More recently (compared to years ago) the NFL demands are so crazy that they need special police escorts around town for each owner and a bunch of other crazy request for the owners and the city has to pay for it.

      The fact that they dangle the Super Bowl in front of the tax payers to get a super bowl is a shame. All the sports do it and they need to stop. When the Super Bowl was on the Meadows (NJ not NY) a lot of people we hoping for bad weather because the game should NOT be played in an environment where the weather shouldn’t have an impact on the game. The NFL got very lucky because leading up to the game it was very very cold and the day after we had s nor’easter. Too bad that wasn’t the day of the game because the weather on game day was mild for that time of year.

      And the NFL pisses me off becaise they don’t pay taxes. What’s up with that? We need to have that changed. Those billionaires are making money hand over fist and we pay for it.

      • Don’t they have a policy where the NFL reps do not pay hotel taxes? So the city benefits from other visitors but not the NFL people staying in town. I remember something like this with Santa Clara.

        The extra tickets might help the team but not the home town. IMHO, Santa Clara got little to nothing out of hosting the Super Bowl. Especially given that many of the events were in San Francisco.

        • I think the NFL “voluntarily” dropped their tax exempt non-profit status this year after being “shamed”
          into it by Congress. I think one of the perks when they were tax exempt non-profit is they did not have to pay the hotel taxes. Of course when local and state government leaders build stadiums for colleges, pro teams, and high schools, the tax exempt bonds are still being used because of partnerships with government entities. I think the Obama administration and various congressional members have tried to get this changed – at least at the pro and college levels.

          • The hotel tax exemption is unrelated to the NFL’s nonprofit status.

          • Neil,

            Isn’t the tax exemption one of the many conditions that the NFL makes the host city agree to. There’s no law that says non-profits get tax free hotel rates.

          • Right, exactly. (Sorry, was on via phone before, couldn’t type a full response.) All is explained here:


          • This old link implied the NFL employees were not taxed because of their nonprofit tax exempt status:

          • Tom Coburn is wrong. I’ve talked to tax experts, they’ve set in no uncertain terms that the no-hotel-tax provision is separate from any non-profit status.

      • The city benefits from a Super Bowl only if those rooms, restaurants, etc would go unused during that same week in Feb.

        You’ll find that they’ll likely be booked and utilized at or above the same rate whether or not the Super Bowl is there. If anything they’re used less when the Super Bowl is coming to town because other folks will avoid the city and blocks of rooms/spaces will be booked out for the week but only used for like two days.

        • The NFL would pay taxes on the space/rooms unless they’ve negotiated something different with the city.

          At which point that’s on the city for being dumb.

  2. Anyone looking to buy NFL season tickets, don’t be duped by promises of a chance to win Super Bowl tickets. Of the few thousand (often 3,000-4,000 depending on host stadium capacity) Super Bowl tix a host team gets, expect a couple thousand to go to team corporate sponsors, suite/club seat owners contractually promised Super Bowl tix, people the team/owner want to get tickets (politicians, friends, family) etc. Then of the tickets remaining after that, season ticket holders are often chosen by a weighted system so the older (and most quantity of seats) ticket holders are likeliest to get them. Newer season ticket holders are promised a chance to win Super Bowl tickets by account executives aka team sales force which is true, however the odds are pretty minuscule.

  3. I give Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross credit because he paid over 400+ Million for the renovations. Yes he gets paid money for big events being paid there but that won’t get his money back anytime quick. And when that stadium was originally built it was all from private money Joe Robbie raised so the city never had to pay for the stadium to be built or renovated. The city of Miami got screwed by the Marlins and their new stadium and that’s why they didn’t shell out money for the Dolphins.

    From what I read a while ago the NFL doesn’t want owners paying for stadiums. They can help fund it but not pay the entire bill. That’s a shame because they can afford it.

    • Miami-Dade County is actually set to give Ross a $4m bonus for “bringing” the Super Bowl to Miami:

      And, of course, he’s still lining up for state sales tax kickbacks. So don’t applaud him too vigorously just yet.

  4. As for the Oakland move, I don’t know why Davis would be trying to use this as a ploy to get something out of Oakland. That’s like trying to rob a homeless guy. There’s just nothing there to get. I don’t think Oakland will be making any offer Davis could get excited about any time soon.

    His situation in Oakland is such that I think he would indeed take a fairly decent offer in Las Vegas if given such.

    • Actually there are a group of investors (backed by a hedge fund) are working on a stadium development deal in Oakland. Their only mistake is wanting an equitable position in the team (which will not happen). In addition, you now have Adelson working on a privately-financed concert-only venue behind his properties; yet the man needs public financing for at-minimum a $1.4 billion football stadium who will host at most 20 events a year.

      • Perhaps. I don’t see it happening. While the Bay Area real estate market is hot, that area is depressed.

        In any grand development scheme deal that includes a stadium, the private amount required for the stadium portion would probably be near a half billion. That would make it very tough to have even a very large deal pencil out.

    • Bad metaphor. Oakland has a very large city budget and a growing tax base. In fact the Oakland budget and economy is much stronger than Las Vegas. It isn’t “a homeless guy.”

      It’s more like asking Ebenezer Scrooge for donations. Except instead of buying a goose for Tiny Tim, you are helping Mark Davis eat more PF Changes. On second thought, that’s a horrible metaphor too.

      • I’ll admit the metaphor is bad. I just think Mayor Schaff and the rest of the Council are not going to give up much to keep the Raiders. They might give up some land but not $$ to build a stadium. That won’t satisfy Davis and is probably much less than he’d get from a Vegas deal.

        The town has a large budget but is not well off. Oakland is still paying for Mt. Davis. If Schaff and Council tried to give a lot to the Raiders I think they’d have trouble getting out of town alive.

        • I’m not sure by what measure Oakland is “not well off”. Oakland is not as well off as San Francisco or San Jose, but is near or slightly above the US average when it comes to measures of income.

          People have a lot of preconceptions about Oakland that are rooted in the past. It is a very unequal city, but it is not a poor city. In contrast Las Vegas is.

          What Oakland does have is a very politically active population and a robust civil society. Las Vegas doesn’t.

          Do not confuse the political with the economic and do not confuse an unwillingness to give stadium handouts based on principles of good government with an inability to do so. In fact history shows the cities least economically able to do so (e.g. St Louis, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland) tend to be most generous in their subsidies while those most able to (e.g. San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Boston) are far more stingy.

          • It would be fiscally irresponsible for Oakland to pay any money for a stadium, they have large pension deficits, budget deficits, too little numbers of police officers, Etc.

            If I were them and alameda county I would sell the stadium to whoever is willing to pay off the debt and let them figure it out.

  5. Well, Las Vegas is a possibility but given the political climate in California and the fact San Franciscans generally hated hosting the Super Bowl, I’m not sure who the potential victims would be.

    Maybe Buffalo could host a Super Bowl. While I for one would be all for that, I don’t think that’s what the NFL had in mind.

    • Buffalo can host and it would get an international flavor, as long as the team has a dome. Seriously, I am predicting that we will see new stadiums in Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Charlotte (Carolina Panthers), Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Indianapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Seattle. This is in addition to the ones that are already planned. This madness has to stop.

  6. I beg to differ, Vinnie B. Oakland is very well off. Tech companies are purchasing office space in downtown and rents are some of the highest in the nation.

    Oakland, like all big cities, has it’s share of problems. But Mayor Schaaf has Oakland directed on a solid path economically.

    • Indeed. It is also worth pointing out Oakland led the country in terms of housing appreciation. Wealthier neighborhoods are becoming increasingly posh while once poor areas like West Oakland have displaced San Francisco’s Mission District as hipster central.

      In fact gentrification and displacement has replaced crime as the #1 issue in Oakland. This is not a poor city.

      • Yes, the Bay Area housing market is hot. But that doesn’t mean the city can afford 100 million let alone the five times that which would be needed for a new football stadium. Remember Davis is the poor boy among the owners and will need a city willing to put up the bulk of what’s needed.

        Still, I’m sure Neal could give us a long lecture on cities in worse financial shape that made horrible deals. Mayor Schaaf has already shown she’s not willing to give a huge handout. The rest of the Council has indicated the same. The political environment is just not there.

        (BTW, I don’t mean to be down on Oakland. I’ve worked there for the last few years and enjoy it. But that area around the Coliseum is very depressed. It would be a risky real estate venture.)

        • Again, don’t confuse political and economic will.

          $500M is 42% of one year of the Oakland budget. Amortized over 30 years it’s about what it spends on park, a bit more than the city spends every year on IT and a bit less than it spends on libraries. It certainly _could_ afford this.

          That said it’s a horrible idea and has no ROI. The citizens of Oakland, quite rightly, are opposed.

          Don’t confuse what a city could do with what it should do or what it wants to do.

          This is what the NFL and other sports feed on. Cities that say “no” are exposed to all sorts of opprobrium for doing so. They are insulted based on the assumption they are simply incapable of paying. It feeds the machine.

          Oakland could easily build a stadium but Oakland residents are too smart to be swindled.

  7. Oakland and AlCo are never going to put up tax money to fund a stadium. It’s just not going to happen, nor should it. When they did a public priorities survey (last year I think), pro sports came in at like #16. The only plausible way the Raiders stay in Oakland is to stay in the Coliseum as is.

    • I completely agree. One could make the argument that the Bay Area real estate market is hot enough to yield some kind of development. But the political environment is such that it would not happen.

  8. “#PROTIP, NFL owners: You can make tons of money by withholding Super Bowl tickets from your season ticket holders, and scalping them through the Mafia. Just make sure to report the income on your taxes. And don’t lie to IRS investigators. That’ll get you in trouble. Oof.”

    – The Ghost of Georgia Frontiere

  9. I’m a bit surprised by the very muted reaction people here in Atlanta have had to the news of getting a Super Bowl after it was used so much to justify paying for a new stadium. Guess it was the accompanying news that there are going to be an estimated $24 million in additional expenses for hosting it weighing on people’s minds.

  10. Not sure if you caught that Arthur Blank finally let the cat out of the bag on the amount that the City of Atlanta is handing him in 30 years of hotel-motel taxes towards his new stadium. All the BS that it was ‘only $200mm’ is now rendered inoperative from the horse’s mouth. $700mm. (See the AJC report of his remarks at the Super Bowl win.)

    Meantime, Atlantans are asked to up the sales tax to 9% to pay for transit on part of the Beltline. Arthur’s $700mm should have gone on that, as some of us said at the time.

    • I had not caught that — here’s the citation:

      Some $200 million from bonds backed by Atlanta hotel-motel tax revenue is going toward construction of the stadium, and hundreds of millions of additional dollars from the same tax will go toward costs of financing, operating and maintaining the stadium over 30 years.

      “We’ve got close to $700 million in public money, if you look at the net present value of the stream over a long period of time,” Blank said. “(There is also a) huge private commitment, $850 million.”

      • Burying the lede? Totally! And the alt weekly, Creative Loafing, is even worse. A couple of us last week tried in the comments to get them to apologize for using the absurd $200mm figure and they simply refuse to admit that it’s the shoddiest reporting or to promise to use the real figure in future. So used to copying out the Mayor’s talk points they’ve forgotten what journalism is. You’ll recall the Mayor swore he’d driven the toughest bargain with an NFL team of any city by giving the Falcons ‘only $200mm’. Total BS, as we said at the time.