Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday.
To prepare for this big moment, the Minneapolis Super Bowl Host Committee spent nearly $500 million on it (mostly via taxpayer dollars). According to the New York Times, it was the seventh one built in the last 12 years, each constituting about $250 million each from taxpayers for a total of almost $1.8 billion.
Despite the optimistic projects, each Super Bowl costs the host city and states millions of dollars – in other words, it loses money. Significant money. Even if you look outside the world of the Super Bowl and examine assumptions about college sports, we learn that most universities lose money on athletics as well (no wonder tuition is so high!). Seth Godin offers some good reasons why this continues to happen, most of it has to do with politics and power.
A lot of good could be done with $1.8 billion. We could help find a cure for cancer, he could address the deficiency in funding education. We could eliminate homelessness in every one of the cities that built a new stadium for the Super Bowl. Instead, we have a new building that serves no function other than to pay homage to the American obsession of sports.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with recreation – it’s a part of building a healthy society. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with investing money on health. However, when it becomes an obsession, it becomes a vice. And that vice can sometimes strangle genuine needs that should be addressed in our country – of which, there are many.
Imagine if we were to build a new kind of stadium: every couple of years, federal taxpayer dollars coupled serious fundraising spends $500 million in a city to make sure every family may afford a home, that no student would be crippled by debt, and that innovations which will bring billions of dollars back into the economy would be invested in. Wouldn’t that be something? Taxpayer touchdown!
Instead, we have a new arena that is used a dozen times per year (yes, almost every stadium loses money). We Americans fumbled big time on that one.