The Super Bowl is often viewed as an economic boon for the host city, what with all the events and tourists pouring in with full pockets.
Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers would disagree.
“If you look at the big picture, this is a huge event for the state and we don’t want to discount that,” he told Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Thursday. “We don’t want to embarrass or tarnish the Super Bowl’s reputation as far as an event that people love.
“At the same time, I don’t want my city to be footing the bill for public safety.”
Weiers said the public safety training is the chief reason his city is losing money.
“Just a ridiculous amount of meetings from all of our staff, all the different departments and that’s been ongoing now for close to a year,” he said. “That’s expensive and the game hasn’t even happened yet.”
He said he realizes public safety is paramount to hosting the big event, but when combined with blocking roads and staffing extra people during “enormous” game-day efforts, his city loses money.
The state Legislature turned down a bill that would have helped Glendale cover public safety costs.
“It just seems to me that this is an awful display of fiscal mismanagement,” Senate President Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert), said at the time.
The bill would have reimbursed the city up to $4 million to cover an estimated $3.2 million in public safety costs.
Weiers, a former state lawmaker, also claimed city facilities — such as pools, libraries and senior centers — have been closing early to prevent the city from losing too much.
It may seem the city would quickly earn that money back through tourism spending, but Weiers again said that isn’t the case.
“We don’t receive any taxes from the actual game so we have to depend on people that are going to the Westgate area and surrounding areas,” he said.
The game will undoubtedly see thousands of people pour into the Westgate area, but Weiers feels his city is merely trading business for business.
“We’re taking our normal visitors and displacing them with other people,” he said. “Is there a net profit there?”
Weiers added that more tax revenue would only come with additional people coming to the city, not replacing current tourists with football fans.
Super Bowl XLIX isn’t Glendale’s first rodeo. It hosted the game in 2008 and bid for it again. Weiers, who took office in January 2013, said that was the decision of a previous city council, which knew Glendale could lose money.
“We have higher costs (now),” he said. “We don’t have the NFL Experience happening at the stadium like we did last time and so we have less money coming in and more money going out.”
However, there may be an upside.
“In the long run, down the road, certainly we might break even on this, we might even possibly make money,” Weiers said.
Glendale could benefit from the national exposure. Weiers said audiences in cold climates will see people wearing shorts in winter and that may encourage them to move to Arizona.
“When people leave here, we want them to leave with a smile,” he said.
His city may be hosting the big game, but Weiers won’t be in attendance. He said he doesn’t have tickets.