Fort Worth’s $4.5 million expenditure for Super Bowl justified

In times of financial belt-tightening, city and local governments have to trim budgets to avoid shortfalls and inability to function. Big spending projects fall under suspicion of being unnecessary to the goals of a city.

Such is the case with the City of Fort Worth’s plan to spend $4.5 million on preparations for the upcoming Super Bowl XLV, to be held in February 2011 at Cowboys Stadium. However, there are significant reasons why the $4.5 million price tag for the city is both justified and necessary, and the Super Bowl will bring great returns on Fort Worth’s investment.

The first reason why Fort Worth’s investment is justified is the Super Bowl’s relative cost to the city. The $4.5 million, when broken down, amounts to two distinct categories of spending.

The majority, around $3 million, will be spent for the exclusive purpose of security and safety officials for the influx of visitors arriving for the Super Bowl. This cost is fully necessary and unavoidable. The city has a responsibility to its citizens and guests to promote safety.

The remaining $1.5 million aims for infrastructure and presentation for media events, aesthetic enjoyment of guests and convenience of Super Bowl participants, like the AFC champion team that will practice at TCU. When measured against the $73 million budget shortfall, Fort Worth is only spending about 2 percent of that amount on “frills” in its Super Bowl investment.

Not only is the cost both minimal and necessary, but it also reflects an efficient and innovative style of investment. The city of Fort Worth sought to host the major sports network ESPN for its multi-day pregame broadcasts surrounding the Super Bowl. Instead of pouring money into an advertising campaign, the city courted ESPN through a simple tour of existing development in Sundance Square and dinner with Nolan Ryan and head TCU football coach Gary Patterson.

A careful study done by the city maximized effectiveness and cooperated with local companies who would invest their own time and money into welcoming Super Bowl events. This effective collaboration reduces the city’s burden to fund Super Bowl preparations alone.

Fort Worth is exercising both restraint and efficiency in its investment. Beyond the immediate effect of the spending on the Super Bowl, several positive long-term impacts will result.

First is the ability to use the $1.5 million “frills” money in multiple ways. The road resurfacing on South University Drive and elsewhere around campus will serve TCU students and the community as well as the area’s short-term value for the Super Bowl.

Second is direct infusion into the local economy. The $3 million spent on safety officials will sustain local jobs and their spending power, instead of money spent on largely symbolic and unproductive monuments, as seen in Vancouver leading up to its hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Third is national awareness. With these minimal costs, efficient use and positive impacts, Fort Worth will garner attention from a multi-million person television audience for over 80 hours leading up to the Super Bowl. The AFC team practicing at TCU will bring attention directly to the university’s campus. The resulting publicity speaks for itself, and does not require an extra dime from the city’s budget.

The $4.5 million investment into the Super Bowl is well budgeted, economized and beneficial to the entire city in the short- and long-run. Finally, consider that in 2008, a Super Bowl television ad cost roughly $90,000 per second, or $5.4 million per minute. Fort Worth will have years of benefit for less than the cost of a one-minute Super Bowl ad.

Pearce Edwards is a sophomore political science major from Albuquerque, N.M.