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Poll: No ‘Super Bowl Bump’ For Glendale

Contrary to the hopes of city officials, hosting the Super Bowl does not appear to have done much to burnish the image of Glendale, Ariz.

Recent polling conducted by Competitive Edge Research and Communication (CERC), a public opinion research firm, concluded that, “Glendale received no image bump from 184 million Americans watching Super Bowl XLIX,” with roughly the same percentage of Americans holding positive, negative, and neutral views of the city after the game as did before.

CERC conducted two polls, each with 500 respondents from around the country representing various age, income, and various other demographics. One poll was conducted the week before the Super Bowl, and the other was conducted over the two days immediately following the game.

Glendale has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years subsidizing stadium construction, including $300 million for the University of Phoenix stadium, where the Super Bowl was played. (RELATED: Super Bowl Shines Spotlight On Stadium Subsidies)

Those investments failed to yield the hoped-for boost to economic development, at least partly due to the onset of recession in 2008, contributing to a municipal debt in Glendale equal to 4.9 percent of its tax base– nearly four times the national median, and twice the average rate for cities in Arizona.

Some city officials had suggested that hosting the high-profile game would help to alleviate that burden by providing an infusion of tourism-related tax revenues, not only from the event itself, but also from the free advertising that could attract future tourists. (RELATED: Illinois: Sweet Land Of Stadium Subsidies)

The CERC poll, however, indicates that hosting the game had little impact on Americans’ perceptions of the city, meaning it is unlikely to experience a “bounce” in tourism over the coming months.

Prior to the Super Bowl, 10 percent of respondents held a “very” or “somewhat” positive view of Glendale, compared to 9 percent holding the same view after the game.

Negative perceptions also fell negligibly, from 5 percent to 4 percent, while the percentage of respondents reporting a neutral opinion rose from 85 percent to 87 percent.

One reason the game may have had such a limited impact is that, “Despite four different in-game references to Glendale playing host, only one-in-six Americans know that it was played there.” In fact, the 16 percent of respondents who correctly identified Glendale as the host city was only slightly higher than the 15 percent who thought the game was played in nearby Phoenix.

Interestingly, attitudes toward Phoenix experienced much greater fluctuation, with the percentage of respondents reporting positive perception rising from 30 percent to 35 percent, while those holding negative opinions rose from 6 percent to 9 percent.

John Nienstedt, the president of CERC who conducted the survey, told The Daily Caller News Foundation that, “In the case of Phoenix, we can say that impressions did slightly move up, but it’s very difficult to say whether it was positive or negative.”

Having conducted the survey every year since 2003, Nienstedt says, “Patterns are starting to become clear” with regard to which cities tend to benefit most from hosting events like the Super Bowl. (RELATED: Should Cities Buy Teams Instead Of Subsidizing Stadiums?)

“We have found that towns that don’t have stature to begin with don’t make the connection as well as towns that do have more stature as a tourism destination,” he said, pointing out that while “San Diego did get a bounce from hosting the Super Bowl,” towns like Detroit and Jacksonville have not.

“Places that people have at least a vague image of as a tourist destination beforehand stand to gain from the publicity,” he explained, whereas “in a smaller town, it’s debatable that the attention is going to have a major effect, because it isn’t enough to convince people that they should want to visit.”

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