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Supervisors quarrel over Super Bowl City costs

San Francisco supervisors continued a debate from last month on who should foot the bill for transit and safety costs related to events in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50.

The Municipal Transportation Agency and the police department revealed at the supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee hearing on Monday on how much each will spend during the weeklong Super Bowl City fan village event at The Embarcadero put on by the Super Bowl Host Committee and the NFL Experience at Moscone Center.

Both events will include to traffic detours and Muni bus reroutes starting as early as Jan. 23 when setup begins for both events, as previously reported by SFBay.

SFMTA’s Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire said the transit agency’s estimated costs totaled $2.3 million. Most of the costs will come from the increased Muni service that the transit agency will provide especially on days when the fan village will host concerts and for providing extra parking control officers around the event.

SFPD said it estimates it costs to range from $1 million to $1.5 million.

Supervisor Jane Kim had first asked for cost estimates for each department involved in the event in a hearing last December, but none of the departments were able to provide them.

It was not until last week that Mayor Ed Lee’s office released a figure totaling about $4 million that Kim said she knew of any costs to The City related to the event.

Both the SFMTA and SFPD have made it clear that the host committee will not reimburse The City for providing its services for the event, which starts on Jan. 30 and will last until Feb. 7, which has bothered Kim and some San Francisco residents, she said at the hearing.

Maguire said though that host committee did pay for the standard discount permit fees for the NFL Experience, which is a paid ticketed event.

Kim said she is excited for the Super Bowl coming to the Bay Area and has no doubt the Super Bowl City event in The City will bring revenue from restaurants and hotel taxes, but said The City needs some consistency on when it should ask for some cost recovery from private entries who host events:

“I ultimately do think that there’s a fundamentally policy disagreement about whether private entities should be paying for this event regardless of the revenue that comes into The City.”

She added:

“I actually do believe these private entities should pay for the cost incurred by The City regardless of the revenue that would come in.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener said he does not believe that The City is being inconsistent with the Super Bowl City event compared to other large events that are held in The City when it comes to cost recovery.

Rarely does The City recover all of its costs for events like the Chinese New Year Parade and the Gay Pride Parade, which happens every year and includes closure of streets and Muni bus reroutes, said Wiener:

“We can always have a conversation about large events in San Francisco whether it’s the Super Bowl or Pride or Chinese New Year or Bay to Breakers or any of the other many privately produced whether its nonprofit or otherwise for major events in The City about cost recovery, but it’s not the case that The City typically recovers all of its costs.”

Kim said that there was difference between cultural events and the Super Bowl City event:

“I do think when you’re marketing for a another cooperation that is profiting from this event greatly. Not just terms of their ticket sales, the products they’re going to sell, the commercials they’re going to air, that we should ask them to pay.”

Supervisor Mark Farrell ,who chair’s the board Budget and Finance Committee, said costs related to the event were already included in department budgets last year approved by the board.

Farrell said he was all for taking a deeper look into events like the Super Bowl City, but said the attacks on the Super Bowl miss the mark:

“To take potshots at the Super Bowl itself right now and saying The City is somehow is not holding up our end of bargain to me is not quite correct.”

Kim said she will introduce a resolution Tuesday at the full Board of Supervisors meeting that will call for the Office of The Controller to conduct a preliminary financial analysis of large private events in the future if the event uses city resources and is not free to the public.

The resolution will state that city funds not be committed for the event until the preliminary cost analysis is complete and presented to the board. It will also require a more comprehensive report after the event is over.

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