San Francisco hotels scored big during Super Bowl weekend, generating a $5.3 million boost to hotel tax revenues, according to estimates released by the San Francisco Travel Association Thursday.
But not all city leaders were convinced the event was entirely beneficial to San Francisco based on the hotel tax figures alone.
With the debate over the costs associated with hosting Super Bowl 50 still lingering, a travel and hospitality industry group released figures estimating that more than $8.2 million in hotel tax revenue was generated between Feb. 4 and Feb. 7, an increase of $5.3 million or 190 percent over the same period last year.
Three days, Feb. 5 to Feb. 7, appear to have set new records for hotel tax revenue in The City, the group said. Hotel occupancy peaked on Feb. 6, the day before the Super Bowl, at 90.7 percent, an increase of 14 percent over 2015.
While Super Bowl 50 was played at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, San Francisco hosted the NFL Experience, a ticketed fan event at Moscone Center, and Super Bowl City, a free fan village at Justin Herman Plaza. The Super Bowl 50 Host Committee estimated that the two events drew around 1.1 million people between Jan. 30 and Feb. 7.
The Super Bowl drew criticism both for its impact on residents and businesses affected by street closures and for the cost to the city of hosting the event, which the most recent public estimates put at more than $5 million. Supervisors Jane Kim and Aaron Peskin, in particular, argued The City should seek reimbursement for its costs.
Business groups and Mayor Ed Lee have called the event a success and argued that the city will more than make it’s money back through increased hotel and sales tax revenues.
“The people of San Francisco were the big winners in Super Bowl 50,” Joe D’Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel, said Thursday in a statement. “Our hotels were nearly filled with visitors spending not only on hotel rooms but restaurants, transportation, shopping, entertainment and more.
It remains unclear, however, whether the benefits were evenly distributed. Street vendors in the areas affected by Super Bowl City and some restaurants and small businesses nearby have complained that closed streets and warnings of traffic backups kept customers away and reduced their revenues.
Peskin, who introduced legislation with Kim calling for small businesses hurt by Super Bowl events to be reimbursed, noted that the travel association estimates were not official city tax revenue figures. The controller’s office is expected to release a report on Super Bowl costs and revenues, but it could be some time before those figures are available.
A hearing on that legislation is scheduled for March 16.
“Having third party boosters make claims is not a substitute for verified facts from city officials,” Peskin said Thursday. “I personally hope San Francisco did very well, and if we do well, our first responsibility is to take care of the people who were negatively impacted.”
Kim said Thursday that San Francisco had better uses for its taxpayer dollars, particularly considering the impacts the event had on small business, commuters and residents.
“In the midst of a homelessness, housing and affordability crisis, San Francisco shouldn’t be forking over a cent for a corporate marketing party,” she said.