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NJ’s Giant Super Bowl Bill: Millions in Lost Tax Revenue, Public Safety Expenses

It is not cheap to play host to the Super Bowl. Between tax breaks and police coverage, the big game cost New Jersey millions.

To lure the NFL, New Jersey officials promised the football league a tax break on ticket sales, parking and other items. This NFL discount translates to an estimated $8 million in lost tax revenue on the big event, a figure that New Jersey officials were promised by the NFL would turn out to be small change next to the economic boost experienced by holding the Super Bowl. It is also standard practice for the NFL.

“One of the standard conditions that the NFL asks of all host communities for Super Bowls is to provide sales tax relief on the sale of tickets to the game and certain associated events as well as parking at those events,” said Christopher Santarelli, a spokesman for the state Treasury Department. “New Jersey agreed to provide this tax relief to the NFL.”

In addition, New Jersey agreed to foot the bill for public safety for Super Bowl game day, employing an estimated 700 state troopers, and costing the state hundreds of hours of overtime.

The payoff at the end is, of course, hundreds of millions in revenues the NFL claims that host cities will earn. Yet, financial experts point out the NY/NJ Host Committee’s predictions of $500 to $600 million, to be split between New York and New Jersey, are overblown.

“Move the decimal point one place to the left,” Robert Baade, a professor at Lake Forest College in Illinois said. “The NFL says $500 or $600 million? I think $50 to $60 million would be a generous appraisal of what the Super Bowl generates.”

Local New Jersey leaders are also lamenting the fact that many of the Super Bowl tourists chose to stay and spend their cash in New York City while Jersey’s special events were canceled after they received no support from the NFL or sponsors.

Even East Rutherford, NJ, the location of MetLife Stadium, received little attention from Super Bowl organizers, the mayor said.

“There’s nothing. There’s nothing,” Mayor James Cassella told reporters two weeks ago. “If you go to New York there’s banners all over about the Super Bowl, so I take a little offense to that. I signed off on allowing them to put banners here in East Rutherford along our highways and we’ve not seen anything other than a sign that we put up ourselves that says this game is in New Jersey, which I find odd.”

All this leaves some to speculate that the Super Bowl will turn out to more bust than boon for the Garden State. “With the millions already being shelled out by the state in lost tax revenue, overtime costs, traffic, transportation and personnel costs, as well as the bitter disappointment by many New Jersey towns that canceled Super Bowl events because of a lack of support from organizers and the NFL,” Ted Sherman of the Star-Ledger wrote, “some might wonder whether the first cold weather Super Bowl should be the last for New Jersey.”

Photo Credit: NJ National Guard

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.