Business leaders defend Super Bowl price tag


San Francisco business groups Tuesday lashed out at critics of The City’s Super Bowl 50 celebrations, accusing supervisors who have complained about the costs to the city of politically motivated “grandstanding.”

Members of the Chamber of Commerce, Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the Small Business Commission today in particular called out Supervisor Jane Kim, who introduced a resolution calling for the city to seek reimbursement for Super Bowl costs and to conduct an economic analysis before agreeing to host future large events.

Kim, along with resolution co-sponsor Supervisor John Avalos, voted in 2012 with the rest of the board in support of a Super Bowl bid and raised concerns only after she entered a hotly contested race for a state senate seat against Supervisor Scott Wiener, business officials said Tuesday.

Stephen Adams, a member of the Small Business Commission and Castro Merchants, said Tuesday in a statement:

“This 2012 legislation really is the ‘smoking gun’ that shows us Supervisor Kim knew what the city was getting into, supported it for more than three years, and only went on the attack when she became a candidate for the state Senate.”

Adams said the legislation aimed to :

“… embarrass The City in one of our finest hours, but Jane Kim should be embarrassed by her own hypocrisy and shameless 11th hour grandstanding.”

Kim today said she was “disappointed” to see the discussion about Super Bowl costs devolve into personal attacks:

“If this happened on the playing field, they would be flagged for personal targeting.”

Kim said that the board had not been given information about the city’s costs for the Super Bowl events hosted by San Francisco, which include a free fan village and an NFL event at Moscone Center, until earlier this month, despite requests dating back to last fall. She called the bidding and planning process “completely non-transparent.”

Recent estimates put the costs at more than $5 million, including police, transportation and other city services. A critical budget analyst’s report released earlier this month noted that while the city was on the hook for Super Bowl costs, Santa Clara, the city hosting the actual game, had negotiated for reimbursement for many of its costs.

Kim said Tuesday:

“I agree with them, I want the Super Bowl. … I just don’t want to pay for the NFL’s private marketing party.”

Jim Lazarus, vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, today said The City had not asked for compensation for Super Bowl costs in its bid because it would more than make its money back in tax revenues from the more than 1 million visitors the event is expected to draw.

He said that other cities that have hosted the Super Bowl have made millions of dollars:

“Cities compete for events like the Super Bowl and it’s not because they’re leaving money on the table. … we’re going to make almost the entire amount back from hotel taxes alone.”

The Small Business Commission on Monday voted in support of The City’s hosting of Super Bowl events and future events as well, citing the economic and cultural benefits.

Mayor Ed Lee today also reiterated his support for the Super Bowl events. Speaking today before the Board of Supervisors, Lee said the events would benefit the city and bring in revenues in the hundreds of millions.

Referencing a 2013 event that cost The City money, Lee said:

“I’ve heard some people try to compare the Super Bowl to the America’s Cup. … That’s like comparing football to yachting, it doesn’t make sense.”

Kim acknowledged it might be too late to get The City any reimbursement for the Super Bowl. Events begin this weekend and continue through the day of the game on Feb. 7. Kim said:

“At a minimum let’s fix it for the future.”

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