SF Business Groups Come Out Swinging in Support of the Super Bowl

The Board of Supervisors — or at least Jane Kim, Aaron Peskin, and John Avalos — have been on a week-long counteroffensive against Super Bowl 50, including a proposed resolution (set for an initial vote today) that the city kick, scream, and scratch to get reimbursed for the estimated $5.3 million in expenses we’ll rack up between now and game day.

Well, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and some aligned business groups decided that two can play at that game. They called a press conference this morning with the dramatic promise of a “smoking gun” to “prove” that the supes are full of it.

[jump] The actual evidence was less revelatory: Just a reminder that, in 2012, the board, including Kim and Avalos (Peskin was between terms, so he’s off the hook), voted to approve the city’s bid to host the big game. The conference was mostly an attempt by local business interests to shout down some of the anti-Super Bowl drumbeat coming from City Hall ahead of today’s board meeting.

Still, let it not be said that our private sector leaders don’t have a knack for political theater to rival any public office holder. Jim Lazarus, the Chamber of Commerce’s senior VP, was all but breathing fire while denouncing what he characterizes as political gamesmanship that threatens to embarrass the city on a national stage.

“Only in San Francisco would we look a gift horse in the mouth like this,” Lazarus griped. “We should be proud to host this. We should be putting our best foot forward and greeting the Super Bowl with a smile on our faces. Instead, we’re getting an election year ploy.”

Stephen Adams, president of the Small Business Commission, and Samantha Higgins, policy manager for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, were also on hand to throw their support behind the city’s Super Bowl deal, but it was mostly Lazarus’ show.

Lazarus called the 2013 America’s Cup a success for “showcasing San Francisco to the world,” and said that it’s all right that the NFL is reimbursing Santa Clara because that city is unlikely to make the kind of money off the game that we will. He dismissed the Budget Analyst’s report on the city’s “Super Bill” as “asking the wrong question,” i.e., looking at only how much the city will spend on the game rather than how much it will make.

The report itself says that estimated revenues weren’t included because no one ever ordered an analysis of them, noting only that the Mayor’s Office “expects revenues to offset the city’s expenditures” sans data.

By way of counterpoint, the Chamber of Commerce offers a study by the city of Phoenix that showed a net $1.5 million general fund profit on last year’s Super Bowl. That city dropped $3.36 million on the big game but made an additional $4.94 million in sales taxes over the previous year’s January/February period.

(Curiously, the same report says that Phoenix initially anticipated it would spend nearly $23 million on hosting. Were they planning to repave the streets with gold?)

Time will tell whether we can match that $4.94 million, plus the few hundred grand extra we need to come out ahead.

Meanwhile, Lazarus and company dubbed the supervisors’ objections as political posturing, saying that Kim is eager to draw distinctions between herself and Supervisor Scott Wiener going into their state senate contest in June and, likely, again in November. Kim et al. will get a chance to (indirectly) respond at today’s board meeting, when we see whether their colleagues decide to join them in confronting the NFL over the bill.

Stay tuned.

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