Dallas TV station WFAA recently discovered that Super Bowls aren’t quite as super as they might seem.

The Super Bowl’s $611 million economic impact on North Texas – as claimed in a study commissioned by the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee – doesn’t seem to hold up very well under examination. It appears that the spending by fans used to attain the $611 million impact are simply assumptions, as actual fan spending at previous Super Bowls or related events was not examined.

For instance, the same firm that produced this study did a similar study projecting the economic impact of the NBA All Star game in Arlington. It estimated that NBA All-Star fans would spend more than $13 million on rental cars in North Texas over the five days of the event. However, WFAA discovered that airport figures show just $17 million in rentals for the entire month of February. The story contains multiple examples like this shedding doubt on the projections.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Government claims of the benefits of “economic development” are always overstated.

A recent Foundation paper, Economic Development: Texas Style, shows that the best approach to growing the economy is through low taxes and less government spending – not through enterprise funds, Super Bowls, and programs that pay employers money for hiring workers. It is much better to leave money in the hands of the people and employers and let them use it rather than to funnel it through the government. Not only does government have to take its cut as the money passes through, but it redirects the money from more productive to less productive uses.

While most of us enjoy watching the Super Bowl, that enjoyment may be tarnished a bit as we think of the $31 million or more that our state government is going to spend on hosting it.

– Bill Peacock