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Super Bowl – By Any Means Necessary


 How far would you go to secure the Super Bowl?

What do you have to do if you want to host the Super Bowl? You may have to build a new stadium, or at least give your old stadium a facelift. You’ll probably be asked to cover the National Football League’s public safety expenses. Oh, and you’ll undoubtedly have to waive or reimburse sales tax on ticket sales and parking passes.

“Section B. Ticket Revenues” in The NFL Super Bowl LII Host City Bid Specifications & Requirements reads as follows: 

The NFL will set all ticket prices and will receive 100% of the revenues from ticket sales, including tickets for club seats, suites and other premium seating. As further noted in "Government Guarantees" section, the Host Committee is required to seek tax exemptions for revenue on Super Bowl game tickets and Super Bowl-related event tickets with respect to sales, amusement, or entertainment taxes, and other surcharge obligations. If such exemptions are not granted, the Host Committee will be obligated to reimburse the NFL for any such taxes or surcharges levied on Super Bowl game tickets and other Super Bowl related event tickets (emphasis mine).

The requirement is clear: Secure tax exemptions for game tickets and related charges or reimburse the NFL for those taxes.

Okay

New Jersey forked over $7.5 million in sales tax revenue for the pleasure of hosting the 2014 Super Bowl in 2014. Then one of the state’s leading Democratic lawmakers called on all 50 states to reject this “absurd” policy.

In 2015, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority gave the NFL more than $4 million in sales tax collected on Super Bowl tickets. Had the NFL not received that revenue, it would have gone toward paying off stadium debt. According to Phoenix Deputy City Manager Paul Blue, “[T]he city committed to the tax rebate in 2010 as part of the Arizona host committee’s bid for the Super Bowl.”

Not necessarily okay

Georgia lawmakers haven’t yet decided what to offer the NFL to draw the Super Bowl to Atlanta in 2019 or 2020, but the Atlanta Sports Council is reportedly “backing legislation that would waive the state sales tax on tickets for the Super Bowl, worth an estimated $5 million to $6 million.” If such a measure is secured, it could be extended to other high-value sporting events.

The debate in Georgia will likely get heated. State Senator Vincent Fort (D) called such tax breaks “corporate welfare at its most cavalier.” William Perry of the Georgia Ethics Watchdogs advocacy group asked: “What’s next? Every Georgian must give the NFL $1 in order to make it as a finalist for a Super Bowl?”

But others, including Atlanta City Councilman Ivory Young and the rest of the Atlanta City Council, support a Super Bowl bid. Many argue that the economic benefits imparted by the Super Bowl are worth the lost tax revenue. During Super Bowl LXIX, for example, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Glendale experienced noticeable increases in their January and February sales tax collections from the prior year.

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.