San Francisco is rich, yet San Francisco is broke. The capital city for American tech barons boasts a budget bigger than some Western European countries, but is short a projected $100 million for the next fiscal year.
And the Super Bowl is not helping. San Francisco will host the festivities leading up to the National Football League's biggest game on Feb. 7. And as of now, the city is in the red for the pleasure.
Hosting the non-game will cost San Francisco $4.8 million, according to a recent city Budget Analysts' report, and the Super Bowl Host Committee has agreed to cough up only $104,000 to help foot the bill. (The NFL, for its part, has pledged exactly zero.)
In stark contrast, Santa Clara, which will host the actual game at the 49ers' new $1.3 billion Levi's Stadium, will have its $3.5 million bill for hosting the game fully compensated by the Super Bowl Host Committee.
This equates to a public “subsidy” for the NFL, according to the report. That's rubbing several supervisors the wrong way, who are demanding that the Host Committee pony up now, up front — and who are prepared to flex their lawmaking muscle to ensure it happens.
[jump] The scenario is vaguely reminiscent of the hoopla leading up to the America's Cup, when a series of rosy economic forecasts were picked apart by economists.
At least this time around, there are no rosy economic forecasts — there are just vague assurances from the Host Committee — a collection of who's-who in local society and business circles — that Super Bowl visitors' spending will allow the city to reap more than $5 million in hotel and sales taxes.
That's far from guaranteed — Glendale, Arizona, which hosted two Super Bowls within the last decade, lost money on both — but more salient question is how did Santa Clara manage to get the Committee to cut a check when San Francisco could not?
That's unclear — Nathan Ballard, a spokesman for the Super Bowl Host Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment — but Supervisor Jane Kim does not plan to wait around for an answer.
This morning, the Tenderloin supervisor and candidate for state Senate announced plans to introduce emergency legislation next week that would somehow force someone — the NFL, the Host Committee, the New England Patriots? — to cough up the money to ensure that San Francisco does not merely break even on the super event.
In the meantime, who's to blame for this? Whoever negotiated the bid to host the Super Bowl, mostly. When the NFL awarded the big game to San Francisco in 2013, it came with an explicit agreement that city departments could not recover costs from the NFL, according to that Budget Analysts' report.
“The city got a real bad deal,” Avalos told the San Francisco Examiner. “It is a huge subsidy for the NFL.”
“Santa Clara got a good deal. They were smart. They called for economic impact before going into agreement with the NFL,” he added in comments to the newspaper. “We should get reimbursed by the NFL. It looks like the NFL was given a pass or the Mayor’s Office failed miserably in negotiating a good deal.”