There's an old axiom, credited to Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain), that goes: "Figures don't lie, but liars figure."

Something tells me if Clemens were alive today, he'd love the Super Bowl. Actually, at 175 years old, he'd probably love a good nap and a nearby bathroom a whole lot more, but that's beside the point. Not since my nine-year-old son projected that the cost of a recent family outing would exceed a "kajillion" dollars, have I witnessed the kind of creative math I've been seeing from Super Bowl officials recently. (To learn how the Super Bowl may influence the stock market, read World's Wackiest Stock Indicators.)

Liars Figure …
If one believes the Super Bowl hype, America's biggest sporting event brings in approximately $400 million to the host city. At least, that's the kind of dough that Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee, believes it will bring. According to Barreto, this figure has folks acting out scenes from the Broadway musical "Fame" on city thoroughfares.

"The last time I looked outside, all the hoteliers were dancing in the street," Barreto told the Associated Press, "This is going to be a big shot in our arm. And it couldn't have come at a better time."

Miami needs a good shot in the arm. AP reports that area home prices have plummeted while unemployment and foreclosure rates have skyrocketed since the city last hosted the big game in 2007. But is the Super Bowl really the shot in the arm that Barreto and others seem to think it is?

Figures Don't Lie
In a 2004 study entitled, "Padding Required: Assessing the Economic Impact of the Super Bowl," Holy Cross professors Victor A. Matheson and Robert A. Baade lay waste to the NFL's claims that the Super Bowl is a gridiron economic godsend. Matheson and Baade determined that, "over the period 1970 to 2001, on average, Super Bowls created $92 million in income gains for host cities."

Others concur. In a story that appeared in The Miami Herald on January 17th, Craig Depken, an associate professor of economics at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte estimated, "that the Super Bowl added about $58 million to Broward and Miami-Dade's economies in 2007."

That's a pretty big dip from the $400 million that Super Bowl boosters brag about. It begs the question: why do liars figure and what does the NFL have to gain from inflating the numbers?

Ruse-Colored Glasses
According to Matheson and Baade, it's all about subsidies for new stadiums:

From 1995 through 2003, approximately $6.4 billion, or an average of $304 million, will have been spent to build or substantially refurbish twenty-one NFL stadiums. The public contribution will have been $4.4 billion, an average of $209 million, or roughly 69% of the construction costs of these facilities ... The NFL has offered the Super Bowl as an inducement to convince otherwise reluctant cities that the construction of a new stadium makes economic sense ... It's hard to believe that the NFL would choose to place the Super Bowl in Detroit in January of 2006 except for the presence of the newly constructed Ford Field.

The NFL refutes this claim in the Herald with data from Sports Management Research Institute that shows the 2007 Super Bowl, "generated $297 million in spending and another $166 million in indirect spending as those dollars ricocheted through the economy."

Surely SMRI's numbers can be trusted. The Herald notes that the company's website states, "This information can be used to assist in lobbying for local and state funding for your event."

It looks like Clemens was right.

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Management Strategies From A Top CEO

    Jack Welch is a legend in the business world: during the two decades he was CEO of General Electric, the company’s value rose by 4000%.
  2. Investing

    From Supermodel to Entrepreneur: Gisele Bündchen's Sejaa Pure Skincare

    As one of the highest-paid models in history, Bündchen has turned her name and image into a worldwide brand, and Sejaa is part of her massive empire.
  3. Investing News

    Learn from These Big CEO Blunders

    A ceo can seem to have it all: power, influence and gravitas. But it can all erode — along with a company’s share price — in the wake of a scandal.
  4. Investing

    Oprah Takes a Big Bet With Weight Watchers

    Does "The Oprah Effect" still work, and can Winfrey reinvigorate a brand that's been struggling for years?
  5. Investing

    11 Top Celebrity Restaurants

    These 11 celebrities may come from a variety of industries but they have all seen the allure of the restaurant business, both high-end and low-end.
  6. Investing News

    Celebrities Who Opened Their Own Businesses

    From Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop to Jessica Alba's "Honest" products, a look at celebrities who have become entrepreneurs.
  7. Investing

    How Gordon Ramsay Built His Restaurant Empire

    Gordon Ramsay is already well-known as a successful media personality. But he is also a hardened businessman, who has turned failure into success.
  8. Investing News

    Top Entrepreneurs Who Started As YouTube Stars

    Who are the celebrities who have made it big on YouTube, and how did they accomplish it? Investopedia takes a look.
  9. Retirement

    Why Some Celebs Say 'No Inheritance for My Kids'

    To some of the super rich, inherited wealth is not the ultimate gift, it's a burden. Here's how their children—as well as charities—stand to benefit.
  10. Investing

    Kevin O'Leary Biography

    Kevin O'Leary is a television personality, businessman and investor from Canada. A brash public personality with a net worth of roughly $300 million, he is considered to be the Canada’s answer ...
  1. Why is Manchester United (MANU) carrying so much debt?

    The takeover of Manchester United by the Glazer family beginning in 2005 saddled the historic club with substantial amounts ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are Manchester United's (MANU) largest revenue sources?

    Manchester United is one of the most popular U.K. soccer teams. Its principal stadium is Old Trafford, located in the heart ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Does Manchester United (MANU) own Old Trafford stadium?

    Old Trafford Stadium was built for and is currently still owned by Manchester United Football Club (Man Utd.). This means ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What's the biggest sports endorsement deal ever signed?

    According to Forbes, basketball player Derrick Rose holds the largest endorsement deal as of 2014; the deal is for more than ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What are the biggest stadium naming rights deals of all time?

    The top three stadium naming rights deals of all time were all for stadiums hosting New York City teams. The largest was ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the difference between a mutual fund and money market fund?

    The Herfindahl-Hirschman index can be used to determine competitive balance in sports. Competitive balance is desired in ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center